Despite having had two mega-hits already, Katy Perry's long-awaited sophomore effort Teenage Dream doesn't quite fulfill the promise those two brilliant singles hint at. Please don't get me wrong, I love Katy Perry and in her very brief career to-date, she has already contributed so much to the face of Pop Music as we know it. Having three number one singles in just two years' time is a proud achievement.
Where Teenage Dream suffers though, is its lack of consistency and this is the problem when working with an array of in-demand producers, plating the seeds of creativity across the land of Pop. Dr. Luke and Max Martin have a wonderful working chemistry with Perry and they are responsible for the best of the set. The album's title track and California Gurls (ft. Snoop Dogg) we all know are just sublime, and Last Friday Night (T.G.I.F.) will undoubtedly find chart success with its carefree California sunshine, recalling "skinnydipping in the dark... then having a menage-a-trois"; and it's about time the under-utilized Saxophone made a resurgence again as heard here in its breakdown.
Peacock, which I had the chance to preview live a couple months ago when Perry visited Toronto, sounds even better on recording with its leaning more towards Electro than Rock and a solo era Stefani-like splendour. Its raunchy refrain of "let me see your Peacock-cock-cock, youre Peacock-cock" is undeniable, much like those California Gurls whom Perry salutes - not leaving much room for modesty nor subtletly.
Circle The Drain sounds like a track meant for Kelly Clarkson with its guitar-driven angst, as Perry lays down the law with a lover whose pill-popping antics she no longer wants any part of; one cannot help but wonder who inspired this after-thought. One track later, she is singing to The One That Got Away, charming with its '60s-inspired arpeggios, which is a bit of an odd fit thematically in terms of sequencing. Hummingbird Heartbeart gives us more of that Pat Benatar nostalgia we heard earlier in the album and I wish there was more of that on the album really.
Fireworks is a cut from the same fabric of debut album One of the Boys with its Hot 'n' Cold-like bassline, but one cannot help but think that something is missing here. E.T. in all honesty sounds out-of-place with a bit of a Hip-Hop flare on this emotionally fluctuating collection. But it's not until late in the album when the listener gets a better indication of Perry's writing ability in her perpetual obsesesion with Simile on Pearl ("she used to be like a Pearl")... and again on the grand finale Not Like The Movies, where she delves a little deeper emotionally on the frail reality of Summer Romance with the help of producer Greg Wells.
Perhaps, Teenage Dream is a bit of a grower, but for now it will be remembered for its glaringly bright moments. The album is in stores Tuesday, August 24, 2010. Grade: B+