“Witness” is the 5th studio album (4th under this stage name) by American pop sensation Katy Perry.
Having never been interested in the musical output of Katy Perry it was the recent single releases of “Chained to the rhythm”, “Bon Appetite” and “Swish Swish” which made me take notice as the production style was gripping.
To my surprise I found myself enjoying this album as the synth beats, retro feeling and catchy hooks make this a really strong pop album which for the most part delivers on a sound that it has set out to create.
The main theme of the lyrics are love, relationships and female empowerment. Vocally the songs are produced so well that Perry’s voice sounds at one with the instrumentation.
On opening track “Witness” Perry sings over this trip hop style of beat about having someone with them through life and using the word “Witness” as a way of describing them. This song is a strong opener and sets the tone nicely for what we will be in for during a album which has some big pop tunes.
“Hey Hey Hey” doesn’t really give you too much confidence on track two with a dated pop/dub step production which sounds very stale. Sia Furler is one of the song writers on this track and the first of two she writes on. This track sounds like something you have heard before but can’t quite put your finger on. Perry tries to stay safe on this song and it just ends up being quite a stagnant and trying song to listen to.
Things improve dramatically on “Roulette”. The 80’s inspired synthesizers are pounding and it sounds as if M83 are releasing their new track. It’s a big and bold track with a big chorus as Perry sings about going back to a relationship for one night and just see where things go. The production on her vocal just puts it into sync with the tune in a slick and polished way.
On track four things get bigger with “Swish Swish”. This track is massive. Produced by Duke Dumont we see Perry start the song in what we think it going to be a pretty ballad but then a filthy 90’s dance beat drops and things really move up a notch. The song has an abundance of attitude with Perry singing about someone who has tried to disrespect her (rumored to be Taylor Swift) and she attacks back with a swagger that you can’t help enjoy.
Perry is joined by Nicki Minaj who just further adds the swag that this beat deserves. There is no doubt that “Swish Swish” is one of the best tracks Perry has released for a long time. Maybe ever.
“Deja Vu” finds it difficult to follow up from the previous track but it does have it’s own atmosphere that is created with some impressive electro beats. This is the third track in a row that as an instrumental works just as well which can be seen as a criticism of Perry as well as praise for the production but it’s just about what type of music you like and the reason for my enjoyment of this album is probably not because I find Perry engaging as a songwriter or vocalist but her inclusion on some of the best pop music I’ve heard in a while.
“Power” starts with a distorted sample of “Being with you” by Smokey Robinson which does sound as if it is going to be very odd but you’ll have to listen to understand what is done. There are some big electro drums used on the track which loses it’s way halfway in and cannot keep the momentum going of the opening portion as all it’s tricks have been exhausted.
All instruments on this track are played by British singer/Songwriter/multi-instrumentalist Jack Garrett who released his own debut album last year – Phase – Jack Garratt (2016) .
“Mind Maze” sounds like a Clean Bandit knock off and that given how bad their music is currently this isn’t remotely a good thing. This type of track is what I expect of Perry and it’s ever so boring.
“Miss You More” continues the downbeat theme as we seem to be trying to catch our breath from a relentless opening few tracks. This song is just as boring as Perry shows her lack of vocal power to make the song interesting. I can’t get to grips with a song like this as I find it so void of any soul.
“Chained To The Rhythm” is a great song. Yes, I just said that. I think I have listened to the instrumental more than the actual album version of the song but even with the vocals I still think it’s an extremely smart pop song and one of my favourites of 2017. What a cool dancehall tinged track with some brilliant synths.
The 10th track is “Tsunami”. Again it’s production is extraordinary as the 80’s synth funk tune is slowed down for a sexually charged song as Perry compares sex to a tsunami. She is convincing with her execution on her vocal in a extremely song track which could also be a contender for a single release.
“Bon Appetite” is another sumptuously produced track. Lyrically it’s god awful and the melody is weak also. But that tune! I find myself blocking out all vocals and listening to this mesmerizing beat and instrumentation that I could listen to all day. So perhaps seek out the instrumental as other wise the comparisons to different types of food is laughable at best.
“Bigger Than Me” sound like we have gone to 2001 Ibiza with some weak ass post club tune. This is turgid but then I was unfair to expect we would get an album with 100% exceptional production. This is a dated affair and is dreadful.
“Save As Draft” is a interesting title to our 13th track but not such an interesting song as lyrically it just isn’t good enough. Perry again talks about about going back to a past relationship but in this track she decides which she is thinking about things she should not reopen old wounds. It’s all slushy and dramatic and whilst the best ballad on the album is still pretty uneventful.
“Pendulum” is something different. It’s the most positive sounding song on the album as Perry hits a more gospel sound. I really like this song. Perry sounds so happy on this song and the melody is enjoyable.
The instrumentation of the bass and the piano sounds terrific and the backing vocals of the choir really add depth to the song. A real treat this one.
It’s a shame this wasn’t the song to close the album as instead we get “Into Me You See“.
You may call this song ‘personal’ or ’emotional’ and if you are really interested in the life of Katy Perry then maybe this will meal something but if like me you are just listening for the music and the vocals then this is a load of over the top shite.
Overall “Witness” really too me by surprise with it’s superb production and just how comfortable and one with the music Katy Perry sounds. It is clear to me she has a selection of songs that she believes in and wanted to make. This is important to how believable an artists will come across and whilst her lyrics are pretty standard the majority of the songs are very strong and contenders for singles.
When things are played safe (especially on the ballads) it becomes a bit of yawn-fest but before you dismiss Katy Perry (as I have previously) just check this album out because there are some gems on here.
I doubt there will be a better pop album in 2017.