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Conan Gray brings retro sound back with 'Found Heaven'

When listening to an artist normally known for powerful songs of heartbreak, ‘80s synth-pop is not a genre one would expect them to perform. However, when Conan Gray released his album “Found Heaven” April 5, fans quickly discovered how well the genre worked with Gray’s voice.

“Found Heaven” had five lead singles before being released. “Never Ending Song” was the first to be released just shy of a year before the full album’s initial release. Listeners quickly wanted more fun and retro music from Gray, but they had to wait a little longer before hearing that sound again.

The next single, “Winner,” came out Aug. 25, 2023. The song is reminiscent of “Family Line” from his second studio album “Superache.”

“Winner” discusses themes of difficult familial relationships in its lyrics. Gray details how he had a difficult childhood because his parents divorced when he was young. He often references his familial relationships in his other music, helping many listeners, who could be going through something similar, relate to his music.

The third single saw a 2023 Halloween release, and it was titled “Killing Me.” The song begins as a soft, lyrical piece, but it quickens in pace as the chorus begins. “Killing Me” becomes a dance-pop track almost reminiscent of Michael Sembello’s “Maniac.”

The final two singles from the album are “Lonely Dancers” and “Alley Rose.” The two were released about a month apart, with “Lonely Dancers” coming out February 9 and “Alley Rose” being released March 8. These songs are different from each other, but both make for great singles. 

Once the album came out, listeners were graced with seven more songs from Gray — some of which became standouts.

Bourgeoisieses” quickly became trending on TikTok after the release of “Found Heaven.” Its bouncy and techno sound became a hit among listeners; the song’s techno vibe resembles a-ha’s “Take On Me.” 

The song’s title refers to the upper class, and Gray describes how he wants to live the life the upper class can live through its lyrics. Lines such as “I want to see how the bourgeoisieses party all night” point to Gray’s wishes for the same lifestyle. 

The album feels reminiscent of songs by ‘70s and ‘80s artists. In a world where today’s pop music can sometimes feel cookie-cutter, it is nice to hear Gray providing something different for music enthusiasts to digest.

When listening to this album, artists such as Elton John and David Bowie come to mind. This comparison comes from both artists’ abilities to perform multiple types of pop songs.

For example, John performed the conversely different tracks “I’m Still Standing” and “Goodbye Yellow Brick Road.” The same can be said about Bowie’s “Let’s Dance” and “Space Oddity,” which have different vibes and meanings. 

As a whole, the album feels very cohesive. The album’s vibe brings a unique sound to 2024, and “Found Heaven” is unlike other albums released so far this year. The synth-pop and retro sound give the album a fun and different vibe.

It will be interesting to hear what comes next for the artist after another successful album.


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