Lady Gaga's new album, "ARTPOP," doesn't officially drop until next Monday, However, it's now streaming on iTunes, so the early reviews are starting to come in.
The verdict? Tempered applause for what is being described as more an exercise in pure pop than art.
In his three-star (out of five) review, New York Daily News critic Jim Farber says the album "explodes with sound and action," adding, "It's a (nearly) nonstop disco blast, with beats that pound, synths that dart, and vocals that fire like a blowtorch."
Entertainment Weekly's Adam Markovitz gives "ARTPOP" a B rating, writing, "The irony of this latest album is that while Gaga is shape-shifting faster than ever, her music hasn't evolved much. ... As pop, the album is a well-executed and entertaining tour of Gaga's tried-and-true tricks. But as art, it falls short when it comes to one basic function: making an impression."
Over at Refinery29, Leila Brillson opines, "To put it simply: If you are a fan of Lady Gaga, you will adore this album. If you find her antics ham-fisted or derivative, you won't."
John Aizlewood at the London Evening Standard gives it four stars (out of five), but notes, "At 15 tracks, it’s too long and too stodgy. A more rigorous editor would have trimmed the interminable title track and the feeble duet with R. Kelly, 'Do What U Want.' But at its best, 'ARTPOP' is an exhilarating musical bungee jump."
The Guardian's Michael Cragg was one of several U.K. journalists who got an advance listen in the studio last week. "Lady Gaga isn't stupid and 'ARTPOP' stays very true to the second part of that awkward compound word. Almost every song comes with at least five hooks and two choruses, sometimes crowbarred into the song's jackhammer production," he writes.
Over at Dazed Digital, Oren Myers compares Gaga's latest to her last, "Born This Way." "At 15 songs 'ARTPOP' is similarly sprawling, but with a higher quota of inventive radio-hits-in-waiting," he writes, adding, "if this album were 10 songs long and Twista hadn't been allowed within a 100-metre radius, we'd probably be calling this the pop album of the year. As it is, it's an album with five excellent tracks, four solid deep cuts, and a few misfires. Inevitably, 'ARTPOP' will be compared to Katy Perry's cautious 'Prism' and Miley Cyrus' uneven 'Bangerz,' and in the main it triumphs with its monster hooks, sheer conviction, and genuine out-of-the-box oddness. She's still the most interesting pop star we have."
Most mainstream reviews are at least somewhat positive. But the review getting the most attention from Gaga fans is actually a not-so-positive one over at Examiner.com, a community site of "pro-am" (professional-amateur) contributors. Examiner regular Angela Cheng, who has written several negative blogs about the singer in the past and claims on her Twitter that she's received death threats over her ARTPOP review, slams Gaga hard in a one-star (out of five) review headlined "One of the Worst Mistakes in Pop Music History." "Think Michael Jackson's 'Invincible,' Madonna's 'American Life,' or Prince's 'Lovesexy,' multiplied by three in the bad factor," she writes, before lowering the boom: "'ARTPOP' could very well be the end of Gaga's musical career."
And the final insult: She hopes that Lady Gaga "gets the help she needs."
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- Lady Gaga