Album Review // CONAN GRAY ‘Kid Krow’
The debut album from burgeoning pop star Conan Gray sees him embracing all aspects of life, and introducing his own story to the world.
If you regularly go on social media, the chances are that you have already heard of the name Conan Gray, the rising YouTuber-turned-pop star. And if you have not before this, then at least you have now, and you will be sure to hear more of him as he shares his debut album with the world. On Kid Krow, Conan takes into his stride all of the different parts of life, regardless of whether it is pleasant or not. There is a sobering reality that forms the core of his dreamy tunes and grounds the otherwise ethereal textures, yet it remains irresistibly charming and showcases the individual allure of Conan that had the Internet head-over-heels for him in the first place.
Familiarity sets the tone for the album, as Conan opens with previously released single Comfort Crowd. As you are drawn into the world of heartbreak, uncertainty, romance and everything else that plays upon Conan’s mind in the album, it is difficult to guess that you will be entering such emotional territory as the airy vocals and reassuring accompaniment of the track lull you into a sense of easy-going gentleness. It definitely does not take long before you are plunged straight into the heart of said emotional territory though, as the proceeding Wish You Were Sober sees Conan confessing his yearning for his romantic interest to reciprocate his feelings without being drunk. Divulging his feelings of disconnection, the track is sure to be a love anthem for the modern age as the scenario being sung about becomes an increasingly familiar narrative.
Following Maniac dominates with its confident beat and throbbing synths, taking your hand and pulling you along in its breath-snatching journey. The assertive and confident nature of the track barely masks the underlying anger, yet it is completely thrilling to see how Conan has transformed such strong sensitivities into what is undoubtedly one of the catchiest songs on the album. However, Checkmate is also a strong contender for the title with its rousing chorus, and playful interplay between light textures and zealous guitars. Packed full of excitement, it will have you on the edge of your chair for the full two and a half minutes that it occupies, with frantic drumming always building up anticipation and leaving you anxious to see where the track will turn to next.
Aside from infectious hooks, there is no shortage of melodrama on the album either, as evidenced through the likes of The Cut That Always Bleeds and Fight Or Flight. Between heartfelt keys and poignant vocals, both tracks unveil a level of maturity to Conan’s music that most of his similarly-aged peers would not possess. There is a tenderness and delicacy with which Conan treats the track, and that shows his astute awareness of how to craft music that hooks into your brain and refuses to let go.
Although it may seem a world away from the sweeping grandiose of some other tracks on the album, The Story holds its own as the perfect ending to this collection of work. Simple in its piano and acoustic guitar accompaniment, this allows the potent lyricism and Conan’s captivating vocals to take centre stage and take away your breath one last time. Perfectly encapsulating the realness with which Conan has approached the album, there is no sugar-coating as he sings, ‘I’m afraid that’s just the way the world works; it ain’t funny, it ain’t pretty, it ain’t sweet’ yet his delivery of the honest truth could not be more sweet. This is certainly a debut that will not be forgotten soon, and it would come as no surprise if Conan became the voice of the next generation considering his ability to pen unfiltered tracks that remain approachable and applicable to many.