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  • Kaitlyn Nicole

Album Review: "Found Heaven" - Conan Gray



The 80's has been making a comeback; not only in music, but in fashion, food and in lifestyle. Nostalgia is a huge thing in today's society. We all want to go back to the times where things were more simple, even if it was a time that we didn't get to live in (I'm talking to you, 90's babies). Modern pop music has been using influence from 80s synth-pop and glam rock for quite some time now. It's a popular comeback style that is present in some of the biggest artists in today's music. However, Conan Gray's new album "Found Heaven" takes this to a whole new level. It's not just influenced by the 80's; it IS the 80's. So if you love authentic retro music, this album is for you.


TRACKLIST

Found Heaven

Never Ending Song

Fainted Love

Lonely Dancers

Alley Rose

The Final Fight

Miss You

Bourgeoisieses

Forever With Me

Eye of the Night

Boys & Girls

Killing Me

Winner


Conan Gray is a singer/songwriter who started out posting covers on YouTube when he was a young teen. He is known for his incredibly angelic voice and gut-wrenching lyricism. Now with over 15 billion streams on his songs, he is one of today's most beloved pop artists for the Gen Z generation. You may know him from his viral song, "Heather". Conan has always used a bit of 80's synth in his style, but his 3rd studio album, "Found Heaven" takes his 80's sound to a whole new level. This album transports you back in time as if you are witnessing the 80's right now. Let dive into each track.


Found Heaven


Track one and the title track of the album, we start off with "Found Heaven". It's a strong song to start this album off with and I think it's a perfect track one. It starts off with angelic, choral vocals and harmonies in a sort of "Bohemian Rhapsody" fashion. Then we get into the dark and heavy synths that create this haunting, but beautiful experience. This song seems to be about religious trauma; being scared to ever love because you don't want to be seen as a sinner. I see Conan talking to himself in the lyrics, reminding himself that he doesn't have to be afraid because religion isn't what takes you to heaven; love is. The lyrics in the chorus ring, "Don't be scared little child of that feeling / you're in love / you found heaven."




Never Ending Song


"Never Ending Song" was the first single to be released in anticipation for this album.  In fact, it came out almost an entire year before this album did. Even though "Found Heaven" hadn't been announced yet when this song came out, Conan fans knew one we heard this song, we were in for something huge and iconic in the future. This song was a first look at the aesthetic and era that would become "Found Heaven". When I first heard "Never Ending Song", the first thing that came to mind was this could be a perfect song for the Netflix series, Stranger Things. It's a hauntingly catchy synth-pop bop, crafted in such a genius way that if you put the song on repeat, it is literally a never ending song. I recommend watching the music video, which made it on our list for Top 10 Pop Music Videos of 2023, and was set in a grocery store called Food Heaven (yes, an Easter egg nobody knew was there until now).




Fainted Love


"Fainted Love" is one of the songs that feels the most classic Conan when it comes to the vocals and groove. It's very 80's, but it has this typical Conan Gray imprint on it. The vocals on this song took me to another world; I've never heard a voice so effortlessly stunning. This song seems to be about being in love with someone who only sees you as a casual partner rather than a serious lover; but somehow, you convince yourself that you're okay with it and that this is all you need as long as you get to be close to them. The instrumentation in this song is so catchy and heart-grabbing, it's easily one of the most catchy songs on this album.




Lonely Dancers


"Lonely Dancers" is the fourth single for this album and it's such a fun, upbeat synth-pop song. Conan has the ability to change his voice to match certain singing styles, and he does that very well in this song. There are moments he sounds like Conan, but there's moments where he goes from sounding like David Bowie to Michael Jackson (and it's done insanely well). Filled beyond believe with synths, this fun-loving song is relatable for those who feel chronically single. The song has a comedic sense that makes you smile and makes life feel a little more carefree for a moment. It gives you permission to make fun of yourself for a minute and dance around like no one is watching.




Alley Rose


"Alley Rose" was the fifth and last single to be released before this album came out. It's also the most vulnerable, emotional and lyrically complex song on the album in my opinion. It is track 5 after all (iykyk). The soundscape of this song is very Queen influenced; it has that operatic rock style that the legendary band had created. Conan Gray has a very Freddie Mercury influenced tone to his vocals in this one, with beautiful falsetto moments with vibrato as well as flawless belting. "Alley Rose" has what I would consider not only one of Conan's best written bridges of all time, but one of the best bridges in any song that I've heard so far this year. Get ready for it, because it's that kind of bridge that takes your breath away.




The Final Fight


"The Final Fight" is the shortest, but yet one of the most beautiful tracks on "Found Heaven". The breakup ballad style song has the most pop tones to it out of every song on the album. It's reminiscent of Whitney Houston and Wilson Phillips with it's soft groove and percussion choices. This song is about when you know a relationship is on it's final leg, and all there's left to do is have that final fight to end things for good. In just a short 2 minutes and 10 seconds, this song is able to put off such a strong and emotional aura. Conan once again shows off beautiful and flawless vocals with his ability to write lyrics that'll ring in your head for a lifetime.



Miss You


Other than "Alley Rose", I think "Miss You" is one of Conan's most personal and vulnerable tracks on this album. If you know Conan's back story, you know that he doesn't trust easily. In this song, he explains that he has a fear of falling in love; therefore, he rather push you away than get too close to you. However, at the end of the day he still finds himself missing the person he could've been if he wasn't afraid. This beautiful track has a melody that'll sweep you off your feet. It's a very lyric and vocal focused song with a minimalistic but catchy instrumentation.




Bourgeoisieses


The term bourgeoisie refers to the small group of people who own the majority of the world's major companies. Capitalism at it's finest, these people have a large percentage of money, more than anyone in middle class or lower will ever make in their lifetimes combined. "Bourgeoisieses", (spelled wrong on purpose), is probably the most eccentric song sonically on "Found Heaven". It's a fun soundscape with more spoken toned vocals rather than a distinct melody. It has a very Brit-pop influence, similar to David Bowie.




Forever With Me


"Forever With Me" is about knowing that even though you're no longer with someone, you'll probably never stop loving them. That kind of heartbreak will last forever and it'll be impossible to forget them, regardless of the bad things they might've put you through. This ballad style song has a heavy piano focus and an 80's pop/rock groove that feels influenced by the likes of Elton John. It has a rawness; a realness to it that almost sounds like a live recording rather than a studio production.



Eye of the Night


"Eye of the Night" has a heavy bass and is in a minor key; mixed with the lyrical theme, it gives the song a haunting, 80's horror movie vibe. The groove reminds me of a mixture of Michael Jackson and Bon Jovi, specifically the song "Living On a Prayer". The song is about feeling haunted by someone; you always feel them around even after cutting them out of your life; but this scenario is described metaphorically with things you'd see happen in those iconic 80's horror movies.



Boys & Girls


“Boys & Girls” seems to be about a bi-sexual girl who has an erratic personality that everyone loves. Conan exclaims that there’s no point in trying to get her when your competion is literally everyone else. If they don’t want to be WITH her, then they want to BE her. It’s another Bowie-esque song that has a strong rhythm and a spoken but still melodic hook.



Killing Me


“Killing Me” was the third single released before the album was announced. It was supposed to have a music video, but unfortunately Conan fell ill when it was supposed to be filmed. This song is about being in love with someone who can’t be faithful, but you can’t help but still have feelings for them even though they don’t feel the same way. My favorite thing about this song is it not only has an incredibly catchy groove, but it has dissonant harmonies that add this sense of mystery and scariness to it.




Winner


"Winner" was the perfect closing track for this album. Released last year, it was the second single released for this album before it was announced. It has a very "We Are The Champions" by Queen vibe to it when it comes to the soundscape. The lyrics are about having a parent who was emotionally abusive. Conan has been open about his past and how he had a disfunctional family, so this song is particularly personal to him. He calls out his parent in this song, basically saying, “do you feel good about yourself now that you’ve made me feel bad?”. This is a great song for anyone who has gone through similar situations.




Conan Gray has brought the 80's back in a way I would've never expected. "Found Heaven" sounds like a time capsule; the soundtrack to an entire decade. Conan took 80's music and revived it in a way no other artist has been able to accomplish yet. You can hear moments that are reminiscent of some of the most iconic 80's artists of all time; like David Bowie, Queen, Elton John and Michael Jackson. Conan experimented with his vocals in a way we haven’t heard before, especially in his lower register. He was able to mimic the influences mentioned flawlessly and respectfully. Even then, he took these classic styles and sounds and he was able to make them his own. If you love retro music, you will absolutely love this album.



Written By Kaitlyn Nicole



*copyright not intended. Fair use act, section 107.

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