Album review: Lady Gaga - 'The Fame Monster' (Polydor)
Hate all you like, but it's getting harder and harder to deny she's a mistress of her art
It’s because she’s baffling. ‘The Fame Monster’, being eight new tunes welded to last year’s ‘The Fame’ (where most pop muppets would tack on a tossed-off remix or two, La Gaga delves into her paranoid soul and constructs a thematic collection around new demons that have invaded her life – monsters representing her fear of, among others, sex, death, loneliness and alcohol) is as pristine as you’d expect, but has a sub-zero core of isolation and fear. In the same way as Radiohead battle computers and learn new instruments to hew their sculptures while Fuck Buttons and HEALTH discover new sonic languages, she uses pop, its producers and masks and all its artifice, as her tool of self-expression.
‘So Happy I Could Die’ perfectly evokes the feeling of being alone in a crowded room with its icy beats, suggesting Gaga takes refuge in masturbation as the only way to retain control, while ‘Bad Romance’ would be hateful if it didn’t have a chorus so wonderfully big it dwarfs the industry of a million angry dudes with guitars. Next to the light-hearted ‘Alejandro’, the jagged ‘Teeth’ and ‘Speechless’, an old-fashioned torch song that sounds like it was recorded with the sole intention of being sung while Gaga sprawls hungrily over a grand piano, are proof of her range and depth of talent. And in an ecstasy of look-how-fucking-gargantuan-we-are-as-icons, Beyoncé appears on ‘Telephone’ to effectively say cheers for Gaga singing on her ‘Video Phone’. Coincidence? This shit’s as organised and potent as a North Korean military parade.
Those new songs are fine, even though ‘Dance In The Dark’ and ‘Monster’ are slightly too disposable, but considering the likes of the stone-cold stunner ‘Paparazzi’ and of course ‘Poker Face’, pretty much the one song 2009 will be remembered for, are included on the original album, this becomes essential for anyone who even remotely likes pop. For the rest of us, it’s the moment Gaga cements herself as a real star. Damn.
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