Not gonna hear her roar on this downer al­bum


Katy Perry has two very per­sonal projects be­ing re­leased this sum­mer — the 12-track al­bum “Smile” and a baby. Only one will re­ally make peo­ple grin.

“Smile” comes three years af­ter the dis­mal re­lease of “Wit­ness,” a crim­i­nally un­der­ap­pre­ci­ated al­bum that’s con­sid­ered a com­mer­cial dud.

That al­bum con­tained the so­ciopo­lit­i­cal “Chained to the Rhythm” and the mu­sic flirted with a more hip-hop sound. So “Smile” is a course-cor­rec­tion back to pure pop, with no fea­tured artists and no political mes­sages. It is Perry’s “I’m so sorry” al­bum, lit­tered with ref­er­ences to a chas­tened song­writer — “ego check,” “hum­ble pie,” “bet­ter ver­sion” and “2.0.” Like the cover im­age, she’s a sad clown.

To be hon­est, there are only rare mo­ments of lev­ity. One of the best lines from the preg­nant singer is, “Look at me now/I’m in full bloom.”

But most of the set is a bit of a bum­mer. Just the ti­tles alone — “Never Re­ally Over,” “Cry About It Later” and “Teary Eyes” — are about mis­takes, re­gret and lessons learned. This isn’t an al­bum of pop songs as much as a ther­apy ses­sion set to mu­sic.

The fire­works have van­ished. There’s no eye of the tiger any­more. Her danc­ing sharks have left the stage.

The de­pres­sive mood only lifts with the electric ti­tle song, clearly the best of a mid­dling list of tunes. “Smile” is Perry at her most Perry: “Used to be dull/Now I sparkle,” she sings, fi­nally with some blus­ter.

There are some se­ri­ous mis­fires be­fore the end, like “Tucked,” a Kylie Minogue ripoff, and “Har­leys in Hawaii,” which is clumsy and too needy, de­spite a Char­lie Puth song­writ­ing as­sist.

So “Smile” is some­thing of a house­keep­ing al­bum. Apolo­gies to ev­ery­one — par­ents, fans, lovers, other women, old lovers. Here’s hop­ing mother­hood gives Perry a real rea­son to smile.

Katy Perry, “Smile” (Capi­tol Records)

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