Kim Petras’ debut single “I Don’t Want It At All” was an electric, fun burst of sugary pop with 80’s inspired instrumentation and a compelling personality at the forefront. Her further singles continued the magic that “I Don’t Want It At All” started. On her debut album, Clarity, Petras lacks the charisma and instrumentals that her singles provided.
Throughout Clarity’s 40 minutes, Petras sings about partying and love with a certain fervor that shows she’s chasing the spotlight from the biggest popstars in the country, but the production of the songs leaves a lot to be desired. It’s more reminiscent of Jeffree Star’s music career or Brokencyde. Throughout the album, there’s very few times that Petras can hold an audience’s attention or separate one song from another. Most of the time, the 80’s inspired production of her singles is thrown to the wind in honor of more modern pop sounds that sound much thinner than the artists she’s trying to emulate. Petras also comes off as an amateur when a song flops. Songs about drugs and partying sound disingenuous, and the romantic songs have the same lyrical dullness that Billie Eilish suffers from. “Broken” is one of the worst offenders, where Petras spews unpoetic emo ramblings that you’d write after your middle school crush dumps you. “All I Do Is Cry” features one of Petras’ most genuine heartfelt performances, but it also features some of her worst lyrics:
Before I close my eyes
I think of all the lies
Can’t go to sleep at night
I’ve tried a million times
All I do is cry about you
I don’t wanna die without you
“All I Do Is Cry” also points out one of the most grating aspects of Clarity: autotune. While autotune has been embraced as an interesting and useful tool for artists like Kanye West or frequent Petras-collaborator Lil Aaron, there are tons of times that Petras uses autotune badly. “Cry” or “Meet the Parents” see Petra using autotune ever so slightly that to the untrained ear, you may miss it, but once you realize that she’s using it so poorly, it’s all you hear.
Despite the album’s massive problems, Petras does have some moments that shine. Despite being plagued with the autotune problem, “Blow It All” is a great track based around an acoustic guitar. The fact that it’s a pun on doing coke is debatable as to whether it makes the song better or worse, but I’m willing to look past a few issues for some moments of enjoyment. “Do Me” is a similarly cringe-worthy poetry, but it also shows Petras at her best-a lush ballad with obnoxious synths over an extremely explicit song about sex. It’s an easy standout as either the best or worst song on the album, as Petras again struggles to find a way to properly express sexuality. The synth solo is great though.
On a debut album that sees Kim Petras abandoning all the features that made her music interesting, it’s difficult to decide if she wants to be a darling for the indie community or a massive popstar. Despite how it may feel, Arianas, Britneys, Justins, Khalids, and Taylors are built not born. Petras has shown that she still has a long way to go.