Monday, November 23, 2009

Lady Gaga's "The Fame Monster": Your New Favorite Album

Rating 4.5/5

Is Lady Gaga even human?

Ridiculous question, I know, but upon snagging my first listen to “The Fame Monster” last week, I’ve been pondering this mystery ever since.

I mean, what can't she do? Her music videos and live performances are quickly becoming must-see media events (did anybody else see her break a massive glass barrier surrounding a piano with a microphone stand, set this same piano on fire while playing it, and then smash empty vodka bottles on its keys throughout her performance at the AMA’s last night?), her fashion sense (or fashion philosophy, perhaps) and public persona fascinates even her biggest detractors, and her music has basically held every club and radio station hostage for the past 8 months or so.

Lady Gaga owned 2009

And with The Fame Monster, she will undoubtedly own 2010 as well.

What I find most intriguing about The Fame Monster is how cohesive and satisfying it is. Running at just over 34 minutes in length, it’s hard to believe that The Fame Monster was supposed to be some measly collection of bonus tracks for the rerelease of the massively successful “The Fame” album. Don’t be confused or misled; The Fame Monster is a brisk, consistently entertaining album, and it’s better than The Fame. For one thing, It’s more interesting musically, going in some ridiculously unexpected directions. “Speechless”, most definitely the centerpiece of the album, is a new songwriting plateau for Gaga, stripping away the synthesizers and sound effects to reveal an actual heart underneath all that glitter and makeup (and fire and blood). Her vocal performance is masterful; powerful and sturdy at first, and then fragile and movingly unhinged the next. It's a near perfect exercise in epic, glammed-up power balladry that would definitely make Freddy Mercury crack an approving smile.

But the true gem here is the depraved, deliciously evil “Teeth”. Sounding like The Doors' “Alabama Song (Whiskey Bar)” if it were produced by Timbaland, the song is meant to signal the point where Gaga gives in to that dastardly fame monster; she sings, “Got no salvation/Got no religion/Take a bite of my bad girl meat/Show me your teeth.” It’s one of the oddest pop songs I’ve heard all year, and it’s truly a testament to Lady Gaga’s talent that it works so damn well. The song struts along like a drunken supermodel teetering off the side of a runaway, at once sloppy and thrillingly fierce.

Elsewhere the songs may hold a bit closer to previous hits like “Paparazzi” and “Poker Face”, but it’s in the details, both sonically and lyrically, where Gaga takes things to the next level. “Bad Romance” has got to be her best moment lyrically, embracing the ugliness and misery of a relationship, and even conjuring a few clever Hitchcock references, with lines like “I want your psycho/Your vertigo shtick/I want you in my rear window/Baby, you’re sick.” Meanwhile, “Alejandro” comes complete with a fun, unforgettable hook, and “So Happy I Could Die” is a blissful, dreamlike send-up to a carefree, shit-faced night out with friends.

And did I mention that track 6, entitled "Telephone" feautures Beyonce?!

Say no more, right?

All in all, The Fame Monster is what’s happening right now. This is the pop album of the moment, and you’d have to be remiss or deaf to let it pass you by. In other words, it’ll be the soundtrack to you getting ready to go out to the clubs this weekend, and then it’ll be all you hear in the clubs once you get there.

Yes ladies and gentlemen, the year of Lady Gaga is upon us.

1 comment:

Teej said...

I have been waiting for this review! AND I COMPLETELY AGREE

speechless is by far my favorite song on the album. and listening to The Fame after listening to The Fame Monster... its surprising how far she's come in such little time