LADY GAGA Artpop (Universal). Rating: NNN
As Top 40 acts Drake, Katy Perry and Miley Cyrus grapple with identity issues, Lady Gaga is releasing the perviest album of her career. Not only do we get 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). There is also a trap-rap track featuring Too $hort and a tribute to Donatella Versace.
If larger ideas are embedded in these songs they are 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 wave-y spoken word, pre-chorus power-ballading and industrial breakdowns.
The songs are full of memorable choruses and unpredictable twists and turns, which eventually get personal on the gratingly over-sung piano ballad, Dope. For all of Lady Gaga's talking points, the fusion of art and pop has resulted in a lot of familiar dance-pop - more artful for its campiness than its musical innovation.
Top Track: Fashion!