Recommended if you like: Taylor Swift, Elton John, any Green Day album from 2009-2013.
Expectation: Lady Gaga’s 4th solo album, following 2013’s Artpop. Featuring collaborations with Mark Ronson, Josh Tillman (Father John Misty), Kevin Parker (Tame Impala), Florence Welch, Josh Homme (Queens of the Stone Age), and Beck. The album was anticipated as a departure from Gaga’s previous sound.
- Diamond Heart – Alternating between classic rock-esque verses and a modern pop hook, this is almost an amazing track, and could be genuinely fantastic if they’d bothered to put any cymbals on the chorus. The percussion is so empty through the entire chorus, everything else gets HUGE and Gaga delivers this monstrous hook and the drums… just keep on with the kick and snare, completely undermining the dynamic shift that would otherwise be phenomenal. Just… why?
- A-YO – Ronson does Ronson things. Very danceable song with a charming guitar solo that is somehow both hokey and catchy. The “a-yo, a-yo” was annoying at first, but I got over it since the song is just that infectiously catchy.
- Joanne – Nice acoustic ballad. One of my favorite tracks.
- Dancin’ In Circles – You know you got the most out of collaborating with Beck when a track this bizarre works.
- Perfect Illusion – Deleted after second listen. Catchy on its own but sticks out like a sore thumb in the context of an album.
- Angel Down – Make sure to check out the “Work Tape” version on the deluxe edition, it really elevates this track to another level.
Overall: One thing I’ve yet to mention is how hard Gaga sells this album with her vocals. She sings her heart out on every track, and the album wouldn’t work without it. The 70’s and 80’s influences are readily apparent, as Gaga and her collaborators seem to simultaneously draw from Elton John, Supertramp, Fleetwood Mac, Pat Benatar, and Dolly Parton. The end result is a varied and interesting collection of songs where nearly every track feels distinct.