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Despite Lady Gaga’s lofty talking points, the fusing of art and pop on Artpop has resulted in a lot of familiar dance-pop, more artful in its campiness than its musical innovation.
For starters, it is her perviest album to date. We get not just an oddly incongruous R. Kelly duet (Do What U Want), but zany arena anthems referencing masturbation (Sexxx Dreams), submission (G.U.Y.) and pig play (Swine), too.
If larger ideas are embedded in these songs, they’re drowned out by Gaga’s gargantuan production, but the overall cheeky tone is a welcome departure from Born This Way’s self-righteous Bible talk. While that album revelled in classic rock, Artpop largely imports over-the-top symphonic rock flourishes into electronic music, piling on new wavey spoken word, pre-chorus power ballading and industrial breakdowns.
The songs are full of memorable choruses and unpredictable twists and turns that veer toward a personal denouement, the straight-forward but gratingly over-sung piano ballad Dope.
Top track: Sexxx Dreams