With the release of his debut studio album ‘Kid Krow’, Conan Gray cemented a special place in my heart with lyrics that spoke to me and music that helped shape the last few years of my teenagehood. I was able to vicariously live my teenage fantasy through his lyrics and melodies, especially at a time when I couldn’t really do that because there was a raging pandemic outside. At that point, I had an idea of the person I wanted to be and having to lose all that progress is something that still affects me to this day. That being said, ‘Kid Krow’ was what pushed me forward and made me yearn again. I love and adore Conan, he quickly became one of my idols and I genuinely felt the need to be more authentic ever since I found out about him. It goes without saying that I was ecstatic for the release of ‘Superache‘ and it truly makes me so happy that I’m witnessing his journey because the sheer progress is undeniable. Every aspect that made ‘Kid Krow’ the success that it is, only gets better in this incredibly special and unique sophomore album. If his debut album was about teenage trials and tribulations, ‘Superache‘ is for those twenty-something year-olds trying to make their way in the world while trying to unload and unpack years of trauma while simultaneously searching for who they are at the same time. It’s for me, ‘Superache‘ is for me.
‘Superache‘ is a gorgeous medley of overwhelming pain unravelling through self-reflection. After the coming-of-age tale in the previous album, this takes a much darker, mature and melancholic approach. The heartbreak, familial trauma and yearning for love, while all themes that were dealt with in ‘Kid Krow’, they feel so much more prevalent and detailed here. Honestly, the best way to describe this album is as if it’s a therapy session because there is so much self-reflection and progress in the lyrics that by the end you truly feel that you are witnessing the beginning of something new and the end of a past story. In fact, I would say ‘Superache‘ acts like the perfect sequel to ‘Kid Krow’, it’s a very effective end to what that first album built. The emotional ballads are bigger, the pop tracks are punchier and the lyrics are all the more genuine and heartwrenching. It is a true portrayal of how love or the lack of it, affects a person. From romantic love to familial and platonic, this is a tragically interwoven story about how the past forms the present and creates worries for the future. Gray starts off the record by claiming that he wants to love, to feel it and have it reciprocated. Here, the vulnerability of him admitting that he does want all that love and emotion results in a self-reflective spiral detailing all of his relationships.
As someone who freakishly loves ballads, this album is a goddamn goldmine. Not only does Gray write fiercely unique lyrics that are as emotional as they are genius but he crafts a melody that’s just as good to make the perfect song. The best part about this is that he does it so many times within this album. If ‘The Cut That Always Bleeds’ and ‘Heather‘ were your favourite then ‘Superache‘ is meant for you. While tracks like ‘Movies‘ and ‘Yours‘ have simpler lyrics compared to the other ballads, they make up for it by arguably having the best melodies from the entire album. Lyrically speaking, however, there are a number of songs that are worthy of being called Gray’s best work so far. Usually, albums only have one or two special moments but this album has quite a few. From the space-centric ‘Astronomy‘ to the tragically vulnerable ‘Family Line‘ and then the crowning jewel ballad ‘Memories‘. Lyrically, these three are true gems, I cannot praise Gray’s penmanship enough. The metaphors in ‘Astronomy‘ are genuinely insane and the storytelling in ‘Memories‘ makes it a true standout. The true bravery to write and perform ‘Family Line‘ however is something truly commendable. I don’t usually like to go into much detail about my own personal life on here but that second verse hit me like a pile of bricks. I am so glad that we are at a time where songs like these exist because there are so many people that need to hear them and not feel alone and have that hope that things will get better.
Musically, ‘Superache‘ tackles more mature sounds for Gray but he manages to keep that distinct style present throughout. He improves on that sound from ‘Kid Krow’ while bringing in new elements. The production is more detailed and as a whole, the record feels a bit more cohesive than his debut album. This being said, while ‘Superache‘ has some of his best work to date, it isn’t without a few flaws, nitpicks almost. Lyrically, this is one of the most beautiful and genuine albums I’ve ever heard, however, the production doesn’t always mirror the quality of the lyrics at times. I will be totally honest, I love the first verse and chorus of ‘People Watching’ but when those drums come in, I start to lose interest. it should’ve totally been a full-out corny ballad with strings and everything but that’s more of a nitpick as, at the end of the day, it still fits the album well. The guitars on ‘Jigsaw‘ however, don’t quite deliver the satisfaction that they should in the chorus, maybe not to overshadow Gray’s vocals but nevertheless a bit anti-climactic. ‘Summer Child’ was a quaint track that I feel could’ve been a bit longer while the follow-up ‘Footnote‘ could’ve been cut out or reduced to an interlude as it doesn’t really add anything unique to the album that we haven’t heard already. That being said, the climaxes in both ‘Memories‘ and ‘Astronomy‘ are so incredibly powerful that I can overlook those flaws. To be fair, I always preferred Gray’s ballads over his pop tracks.
Overall, Conan Gray delivers some of his best work on a sophomore album that truly feels like a huge step forward despite having such a great debut. He is constantly growing and getting better and this album is proof of that. I cannot wait to see where his career takes him and I know for a fact that there will be songs in the future that will somehow be better than this and he’s going to blow my mind all over again. Every single that has been released has been stuck in my head for months and the album definitely keeps that alive. He really put the Super in ‘Superache‘. Yes, I know where ‘The Exit‘ is…. ok fine I’m leaving but not without ranking the songs first!
3. Family Line
6. The Exit
9. People Watching
10. Summer Child
11. Best Friend
Conan Gray’s ‘Superache‘ is available to stream as well as for purchase on CD, Vinyl and Cassette.
PS. the cassette is actually offensively stunning.