Katy Perry‘s Prism dropped today (October 22), and the reviews are in! The universal takeaway was that this album does, indeed, depict a more mature version of the pop star. The debate, though, is whether her music has suffered as a result. And on that point, the Prism reviews, well, covered the whole spectrum you might say.
Our own Sam Lansky was hugely disappointed with the album, arguing in his review that while it was impeccably crafted pop, “it’s a frustrating listen in so many ways.” “Prism feels like a step forward into something regressive, with its transcendental messaging and New Age posturing never quite uniting to say anything at all,” he wrote.
See how everyone else graded Katy’s return in our roundup of reviews below.
:: Billboard scored the album a very solid 83/100, calling it ”a firm and well-executed step toward adulthood” before concluding, “Perry has aspired to create a multi-faceted full-length and has consummately succeeded.”
:: USA Today was equally impressed, saying “Perry’s lust for life itself [is] genuine and endearing enough to redeem a few pop cliches,” on the way to a 3/4 score.
:: UK’s The Telegraph gave Prism a perfect score (um OK?), raving that it finds “a woman driven to tell her own story” and that Perry “sounds like a woman, and an artist, who’s finally found herself.”
:: Rolling Stone, however, was more tepid with 3 stars out of 5. “Perry has always done a great job of letting us know she’s in on the joke of pop stardom. Sadly, she doesn’t always bring that same sense of humor and self-awareness to the joke of pop-star introspection. The album’s raft of ripe-lotus ballads is larded with Alanis-ian poesy she can’t pull off.”
:: All Music handed out a warmer 3/5, noting Perry “has toned down her cheesecake burlesque, opting for a hazy, dreamy, sun-kissed hippie Californian ideal that quietly replaces the happily vulgar pinup of her earliest years… Prism fully lives up to that carefully constructed ideal.”
:: Consequence of Sound gave it a respectable 3.5/5. “Moving the goalposts of pop music is not Katy Perry’s aim,” the site lays out. “Instead, Perry makes her name by crushing the established sounds of pop radio… While neither Perry nor Prism push any boundaries for pop music, they certainly raise bars.”
:: SPIN‘s reviewer was thoroughly unimpressed, concluding, “I applaud the maturity here, the personal and artistic growth, the realization that one cannot shoot fireworks from one’s big balloons into cultural perpetuity. This is a pivot, this record, and a shrewd one, but ‘shrewd’ and ‘boring’ are not mutually exclusive.”
:: Pop Matters echoed some of our sentiments in their 4/10 review. ”The same tropes, themes, and even some of the occasional production tricks all carry over, Perry revealing nothing new about herself, but still mining the same songwriting vein she’s been at without any signs of slowing down. For her fans, it’s exciting. For anyone else, it’s a disappointment.”
:: Pretty Much Amazing was especially scathing in its C- grade. “Prism is unsatisfying, cheesy, and very poorly written – but it has to be one of the best-produced mediocre pop albums in a while… [A] robust team of gifted producers ensures that Prism is a fairly engaging listen almost in spite of itself.”