Wrote this little piece for my friend Lena’s weekly newsletter Digestible.
I describe myself as a critical fan of Lady Gaga which basically means that I really like her but I talk about her like I don’t. One of the things that frustrates me is that her albums (ARTPOP, Born This Way, even Joanne) start out with this fantastic revolutionary space opera concept but end up dropping it after the few tracks to make way for a parade of fantastic but mostly unrelated Gaga hits. Chromatica finally resolved this issue for me by keeping the world building mostly atmospheric (blade runner, pink, utopia, etc.) and injected the conceptual packaging into the album’s structure.
The album is organized into three very effective and thematically unified suites, punctuated by little orchestral interludes (Janelle Monáe said hiiiiii). Chromatica I finds our hero as a melancholy party gal dancing downtown with mascara streaked cheeks after a break up. In Chromatica II our Lady struggles for mental wellbeing, uses objectification as a medium to explore empowerment and powerlessness (it’s very good,) and gives us a very tasteful Bowie reference. Chromatica III is Elton John feature Sine From Above plus 1000 Doves and Babylon which feel like bonus tracks but it’s okay because Sine From Above is *chef’s kiss.* Sir Elton’s vocals are treated kinda strangely and don’t really sound like him BUT the song is A Very Gaga Cosmology and there’s a little French horn solo that leads into the track (as a horn player, I wept).
The Good: Thematic continuity (yas gaGa!), airtight and social distance dance floor ready production, lovely lyricism, meaningful collaborations, and Babylon samples a loon call which just melts my little Minnesotan heart.
The Bad: I want so badly for the tracks to transition smoothly like the string interludes do! There are these wide gulfs of fade out/fade in between each track that I find very frustrating
The Verdict: You’ve been a very very good good girl Gaga.
Top Tracks: Sine From Above, Alice, Sour Candy, Enigma