“My name isn’t Alice, but I’ll keep looking for wonderland,” Gaga sings in the opening lyrics of Chromatica. Her name isn’t Alice, for sure, but this new era of Gaga definitely makes a name for herself and I believe we can call her Kindness Punk.
The album begins with the cinematic string arrangement, “Chromatica I,” co-written by Morgan Kibby, which sets the stage for one of Gaga’s most creative endeavors yet. The 16 tracks of the standard edition album are separated by a total of three “Chromatica” orchestra interludes (I, II, and III), each further expanding this world Lady Gaga created.
Interludes have always been a skip for me, but Chromatica‘s take on the interlude surely won me over. “Chromatica II” in-particular serves more as an opening to a fan-favorite track “911” with a near perfect fade into the song. The way Gaga’s interludes brings one group of songs into the next just makes sense.
This era of Lady Gaga returns to her pop/ dance roots after a more stripped down take with Joanne and the A Star Is Born Soundtrack released in 2018. Though, don’t mistake a return-to-roots for something you’ve heard before. Unlike her debut album The Fame and the more avant-garde ARTPOP, Chromatica is realistically a house/disco album unlike anything she’s released before.
Both the previously released “Stupid Love” and “Rain On Me,” fit nicely with the rest of the album, coming in early on the tracklist being the third and fourth track respectively. The first act of Chromatica packs a lot of punch, also being my favorite of the three acts.
Most of the album relies on heavy dance production over the dark subject matter that is Lady Gaga’s specialty. “Fun Tonight” deals with the end of an abusive relationship, “911” blends electro-pop with prescription anti-psychotics, while the hook of “Replay” will have you grooving to the lyrics “The monster inside you is torturing me, The scars on my mind are on replay.”
For some, the highlight of Chromatica may be the features Gaga brought in this time around. Ariana’s “Rain On Me” is set to debut at #1 on the Hot 100, Blackpink’s “Sour Candy” is Lady Gaga’s first take on K-pop, and Elton John’s “Sine From Above” will go down as one of Gaga’s greatest songs of all time.
Long time Gaga fans may be numb to the extent of Lady Gaga’s vocals on Chromatica, but for a newcomer, it is a pure wonder. Beyond adapting to a new genre nearly every release, Gaga’s vocal talent proves how much of a growing force she truly is.
On one of her most electronic albums yet with production taking the passenger seat in her pop vessel, nearly every song of Chromatica has Gaga using a new vocal style with ease. Compare the chorus of “Enigma” to the verse of “Sine From Above” and then to the opening of “Alice.” Chromatica could lead the album charts for most of 2020 for this reason alone.
Overall, Chromatica is a treat for anyone looking for some good dance music to add to their playlist or anyone looking for an album to immerse themselves into for quite a few listens. The tracks are vast enough to find something to love in each of them with a few standouts probably earning a spot in your daily rotation. For Gaga fans, the album is a great edition to her immersive catalogue. Tracks like “Plastic Doll” and “Fun Tonight” have call-backs to previous eras, as a fun easter egg for her monsters.
Some personal favorites from Chromatica are “Alice,” “Sine From Above,” and “Enigma.”
Stream the album below:
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