- 08 Jun 20
"This is the Gaga the world fell in love with a decade ago," says our man Ed Power
Cometh the hour, cometh the dimension-hopping pop diva. With life taking on a distinctly dystopian tinge, Lady Gaga has picked the perfect moment to return to the reality-warping electronica of her early career with an album stuffed with irrepressible melodies and horizon-spanning choruses.
This is the Gaga the world fell in love with a decade ago, the one who fried our synapses with ‘Poker Face’ and ‘Paparazzi’. She has been missed terribly as the artist born Stefani Germanotta went off the range with her Tony Bennett record and 2016’s country-flavoured Joanne.
But now she has reconnected, emphatically and thrillingly, with the glittery, gaudy motherlode. Chromatica is described by Gaga as a concept LP, of sorts, the title referring to an alternate realm of existence “where equality rules” .
But what really matters is that it’s Gaga cranking out bangers at day-glo full tilt. It’s as irresistible as a sugar binge, as thrilling as a spontaneous night out with pals you haven’t seen in years.
She reminds us of her mastery of earth-quaking pop on Ariana Grande-duet ‘Rain On Me’, with its downpour of hooks and magisterial grooves. And there’s a delirious sense of escapism on ‘Alice’, where she argues we should all cultivate our own private rabbit hole down which to vanish (“My name isn't Alice/But I'll keep looking, I'll keep looking for Wonderland…”)
The starlight comes with shadows, it’s true. Amidst the glitz, Gaga circles around one of the themes that has run through her life in public eye – the dark side of fame.
“Turning up emotional faders/ Keep repeating self-hating phrases” she sings on ‘911’, while on ‘Free Woman’ she doubles down, observing "you love the paparazzi, love the fame/ even though you know it causes me pain".
Yet these glimmerings of angst cannot obscure the lasers-set-to-kill power of Chromatica. Even when Elton John pops up to duet on the Euro-bopping ‘Sine From Above’, it’s obvious that he is basking in the full blaze of her talent rather than the other way around. One of modern pop’s great stars is back sparkling more brightly than ever.
Chromatica by Lady Gaga is out now.