Saturday, April 13, 2024

On and On Like A Never Ending Album: Conan Gray’s ‘Found Heaven’ Is New Paradise

‘Found Heaven’ transports you into an ‘80s dreamwave-inspired haven that feels like a trip to the discotheque or the main character in a romance or a coming-of-age movie. 

Conan Gray’s third album is full of nostalgic synths, drum kits, dreamy elements, and wavy guitars that pair with Gray’s vibrato - making the listening experience feel like you're living life with a magnetic dream filter on. 

The 13-track album explores love, loss, lust, and self-concept themes that demonstrate how he has finally cultivated a version of heaven for himself. ‘Found Heaven’ is the first song on the album, and it sets the tone of what to expect in the sonic atmosphere throughout the rest of the songs. The first 20 seconds of track one are filled with an eerie minor opening similar to a religious requiem, hailing “no God above us, can we repent this sin? / No soul is innocent / everybody wants to love”. Painting the image of love and self-concept for Gray, he feels as if he is talking to a younger version of himself that held the guilt of being a gay man and wanting to not feel sinful for who he loves. The requiem-esque beginning feels like the death of the boy who was afraid of not getting his mum’s wedding ring and dealing with an unsupportive father as he sings, “don’t be scared, little child, you’re no demon”.  

Immediately, this album is Gray standing up and facing his inner wounds to embrace what the world has to offer him while still understanding the pain that time from when he was younger has had on him. To get the last song on the album, ‘Winner’, is to understand ‘Found Heaven’ as the two songs connect despite everything in between, showcasing his freedom and newfound fun in love, loss, and lust. 

To dive into those themes is a pleasurable journey sonically and lyrically - you’ll fall into Gray’s version of siren songs and be compelled to listen more and more and, of course, dance around as you do so. A song for the lovers (competing with having a crush on someone who is bisexual) would be ‘Boys & Girls’ with lyrics “cherry hair, so super Bowie / kissed me but swears that you don’t know me” and “boys and girls / they want ya” show a bit of envy, the desire for love, and the desire to be on someone’s mind. We also want to note that the direct Bowie reference in this song is dynamic as woven within this musical work are influences likely from Bowie (see the album artwork - a heavy Ziggy Stardust influence), Madonna, Freddie Mercury, and other icons from the ‘80s. 

‘Bourgeoisieses’ and ‘Eye Of The Night’ are two tracks that fulfil the lustful fantasy in two different ways. The former is about monetary lust and curiosity about living a lavish upper-class life without consequences as someone with more lived experiences in a lower to middle-class lifestyle. “The men at war, they draft the poor / no time to mourn, I’m on the dancefloor” and “I want to see how the Bourgeoisieses party all night” give insight into how he wants to have a moment into what appears to a carefree lifestyle with no appeared pain nor grievances, only hiding in money. 

Meanwhile, ‘Eye Of The Night’ is about romantic lust following the loss of love heard in ‘Alley Rose’. ‘Eye Of The Night’ has every element of ‘80s pop, the rhymatic hip swaying bass, mellow drums, and synth keyboard surrounding his voice singing “but then I, I hear your heartbeat bleedin’ through the floor / the memories that I cannot ignore / fight for my life inside a silent war / ‘cause you’re here watchin’ me”. The lust in the song is confusing; the ex-lover wants him back, but there’s a feeling Gray can’t shake off entirely, letting go of the desire of reuniting or letting them fade into a ghost. 

Every moment in this album is worthwhile and an incredibly amusing and exciting 36 minutes. This groundbreaking and fundamental album will take Gray further into his career to achieve more recognition for his vocal capabilities, songwriting talent, and experimental approach to his aesthetic visually and sonically. The new era is, without a doubt, the best chapter in his career, and it’s just a few days in. ‘Found Heaven’, compared to his other two albums, is more mature and feels more alive and reflective of the artist he is and aims to be. We can’t wait to see what’s next for him; until then, join us in partying like the bourgeoisieses as this album plays in the background. 

Tyra Baker


Image: ‘Found Heaven’ Official Album Cover

No comments:

Post a Comment

Comment Here;