Album Review

Conan Gray - Found Heaven

A sledgehammer of an LP that switches things up once again for maximum impact.

Conan Gray - Found Heaven

Introduced via eerie, choral harmonies before staccato, Stranger Things-esque synths kick in, the opener and title track of ‘Found Heaven’ makes it clear from the off that this third outing is Conan Gray’s biggest yet. Not necessarily in length (its 13 songs altogether clock in at a swift 36 minutes) but in concept, scope, ambition, and sound, it’s a sledgehammer of an LP that switches things up once again for maximum impact. It almost goes without saying that the decades that taste forgot heavily inform the album, both aesthetically – there’s something of a Bowie air about the cover shot, Conan’s face daubed in primary colours that stand stark against his pale skin and Marc Bolan shag – and sonically, as synths, falsetto delivery, and bombastic choruses reign supreme.

Fans of 2022’s ‘Superache’ will be glad to hear that he hasn’t abandoned his candidly vulnerable lyricism, but, refracted through the prism of all-out synth-pop (‘Killing Me’; ‘Never Ending Song’) or power balladry (‘Forever With Me’; LP highlight ‘Winner’), even Conan’s more heartsore moments pack a different sort of punch; here, his pain is less of an open wound, and more a bruise – shimmeringly iridescent, but nonetheless tender to the touch.

‘Found Heaven’ does, at times, feel a bit like you could play ‘iconic ‘80s songs’ bingo: ‘Lonely Dancers’ is imbued with the essence of Men Without Hats’ ‘The Safety Dance’; ‘Bourgeoisieses’ and Soft Cell’s take on ‘Tainted Love’ could make for a frankly excellent Pitch Perfect medley; and ‘Boys & Girls’ lands like a modern incarnation of Duran Duran’s ‘Girls On Film’. (And if you think all this might be coincidence or unconscious inspiration, think again – one track is literally called ‘Fainted Love’). But, when his influences are worn as heart-on-sleeve as they are here – and, crucially, are executed as well – the overall effect is one of knowing homage rather than tribute act. Anyone for a perm?

Tags: Conan Gray, Reviews, Album Reviews

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