Lady Gaga is here to set you free.
If your body, soul and spirit have been feeling caged during the coronavirus lockdown, “Chromatica” — Gaga’s highly anticipated fifth solo studio album — just might be the key to escape. At least for 43 minutes.
Descending from the disco heavens, the LP arrived early Friday, as if coming from some planet where the party never stopped. The dance-floor futurism of “Chromatica” takes you to that place in the galaxy of your mind where the clubs are still pumping.
Originally scheduled to be released on April 10, the album was postponed out of respect to the pandemic. But now Gaga clearly feels that the party must go on to lift us up.
In fact, “Fun Tonight” captures the state of isolation where we’ve been stuck. “I feel like I’m in a prison hell/Stick my hands through the steel bars and yell,” Gaga sings. And that “I’m not having fun tonight” refrain has been the story of quarantine life, with the city that never sleeps having been shut down.
But the melancholy streak of “Fun Tonight” — one of the real highlights here — doesn’t stop the pulsating, punch-the-sky rush of “Chromatica.” Nothing does.
While Gaga won an Oscar and scored a No. 1 hit with the “A Star Is Born” ballad “Shallow,” there is nothing even remotely approaching a slow song here. This is all dance all the time.
After an orchestral intro — one of three such interludes that unnecessarily attempt to give “Chromatica” a bit more gravitas — the album takes off with the rocket-fueled “Alice.” “My name isn’t Alice/But I’ll keep looking, I’ll keep looking for Wonderland,” Gaga sings, providing a sense of hope and escape amidst some despair: “Set me free/Could you pull me out of this alive?”
The throbbing beats, though, pound any pain away on tracks such as “Rain on Me,” a survival anthem featuring Ariana Grande that even embraces the moments when it pours: “I’d rather be dry, but at least I’m alive.”