Chromatica has landed! Lady Gaga dropped her sixth studio album Friday, and it's everything the Little Monsters have been hoping for.
After the stripped-down sound of 2016's Joanne and the award-worthy anthems of theStar Is Born era, Chromatica feels like both a return to form -- with some of the freaky futurism that fans loved on Gaga's early albums -- and a move toward the future, as she layers her emotional lyrical journey over driving dance beats.
The album is divided into three sections, with "Chromatica I," "Chromatica II" and "Chromatica III" serving as orchestral interludes between the three chapters of Gaga's new story, which takes place on her very own planet, Chromatica.
"The symbol for Chromatica has a sine wave in it, which is the mathematical symbol for sound and it's from what all sound is made from, and for me, sound is what healed me in my life, period. And it healed me again making this record, and that is really what Chromatica is all about," Gaga told Apple Music's Zane Lowe ahead of the album's release. "It's about healing and it's about bravery as well, and it's really like, when we talk about love, I think it's so important to include the fact that it requires a ton of bravery to love someone.”
⚔️ CHROMATICA 💓— Lady Gaga (@ladygaga) May 29, 2020
THE SIXTH STUDIO ALBUM BY
“I think what I've learned is that I can view the world in whatever way I choose to see it, and it doesn't mean that I'm deleting the bad things, it just means that I can reframe my life experiences and reframe also the way that the world frames life experiences to a way that I love and believe in, and that is Chromatica. I live on Chromatica, that is where I live. I went into my frame -- I found Earth, I deleted it. Earth is canceled. I live on Chromatica.”
"Chromatica I" opens the album, followed by the anthemic dance track "Alice," which sets Gaga's adventurous thesis statement for an album about the fantasy vs. reality in pain and self-discovery. "My name isn't Alice," she belts, "but I'll keep looking, I'll keep looking for Wonderland."
The first section also includes the previously released "Stupid Love" and "Rain on Me," as well as the empowering anthem "Free Woman." It concludes with "Fun Tonight," one of the album's most emotional tracks, in which Gaga seems to make some of her most direct references to past eras and relationships, attempting to heal old wounds with a bass-driven catharsis.
"You love the paparazzi, love the fame / Even though it causes me pain," she sings on the track, which she told Lowe was written as a candid look at her own struggles with depression and mental illness. "I feel like I'm in a prison hell / Stick my hands through the steel bars and yell."
"Chromatica II" transitions perfectly into "911," a song Gaga wrote about about her antipsychotic medication, in which the repeated hook, "My biggest enemy is me," sets the stage for the second grouping of tracks, which explore Gaga's struggles with past pain ("Replay") and living with other's expectations ("Plastic Doll"). However, the theme of independence grows even stronger in these tracks, particularly in the BLACKPINK collab, "Sour Candy," and "Born This Way" successor "Enigma."
The final third of the album features Gaga's most interesting collab of the Chromatica era, as Sir Elton John joins her on the angelic dance floor ballad "Sine From Above." All three of the "Chromatica III" songs, Gaga explained, are her attempts to "dance my way out of this album" while celebrating the journey -- "Sine From Above," the club-ready "1000 Doves" and the ball culture–inspired "Babylon" are all serious sentiments set to sickening beats.
"I need you to listen to me / Please don't leave me," she pleads on "1000 Doves," "I'm not perfect yet, but I'll keep trying."
Cathartic, catchy, and a gift to Little Monsters and casual fans alike, the biggest disappointment of Chromatica, ultimately, is the fact that it's being released in a time of social distancing and can't be celebrated properly at clubs around the world. While Gaga has said she can't wait to share the new music with fans, she also got candid with Lowe about releasing the initially delayed album mid-pandemic.
"It's been a very difficult time for a lot of people. And we stopped the drop of the record, and everything that we were doing, because I really wanted to be more specific at one point. I wanted to do something to help the world, that was very focused," she explained. "Working with the World Health Organization and Global Citizen was a way for me to talk about kindness, and the things that I believe in, in a very focused way, as opposed to a more abstract way, which for me, is what Chromatica is. It's this beautiful abstraction of my perception of the world. And I just wanted to wait for a second and do something specific. And then when it felt appropriate, I was like, 'Okay, we can get abstract.'"
Chromatica is available now on Spotify, Amazon Music and more. See more on the album in the video below.