Billboard has shared their review of Katy Perry’s “Small Talk” calling it a “triumph for the pop star” and stating that “the Katy Perry Renaissance is here.”
With her latest single, released on Friday (Aug. 9), Perry has recovered the top-level song craft that both her fans and general pop enthusiasts have been craving for years, a return to form for an artist who spent the better part of this decade’s first half dominating the mainstream. Katy Perry, expert pop-song supplier, is back. Resistance isn’t futile, but it’s a lot less fun.
It’s too soon to tell whether or not “Small Talk” will continue Perry’s hit streak, but the promise of “Never Really Over” is fully realized on its follow-up. Co-written and co-produced by Charlie Puth, “Small Talk” is a total blast, pairing sly, confident songwriting with the lovable quirkiness that Perry kept at the heart of past hits like “Waking Up in Vegas” and “Last Friday Night (TGIF).” “Small Talk” is fascinating to absorb because of how right Perry gets it on the track. It’s as if this is the type of pop that she should be making, since it perfectly plays to her strengths as an artist with a radio-beloved voice and an overflow of screwball charm. The best pop songs offer a unique spin on an instantly relatable feeling, and “Small Talk” focuses on post-breakup awkwardness — running into an ex and fumbling through conversation with someone who used to know you on an intimate level physically and emotionally. But Perry treats this situation as less of a dramatic showdown than a mundanity with a twinge of sadness, which is what the situation is for most people. “Isn’t it weird that you’ve seen me naked?” she offers, before sighing, “We had conversations ’bout forever / Now it’s ’bout the weather‚ okay.” The lyrics are nuanced — this isn’t Puth’s first post-breakup rodeo as a songwriter — but so is Perry’s vocal take, quietly grasping for resolution but also certain it’s not coming, and that this lyrical encounter will mostly just be annoying.
The whole thing is remarkably composed, especially when considering Perry’s penchant for gigantic choruses — a penchant, by the way, that made her one of the defining pop artists of this decade. She could have gone for the jugular on the “Small Talk” chorus and tried to color in the song’s more muted tones, but her restraint ultimately makes it more compelling, and no less catchy.
Will “Small Talk” become a hit? No clue — it’s subtler and less flashy than “Never Really Over,” so predicting how Perry’s longtime home at Top 40 radio will treat it is anyone’s guess. What is clear, though, is that Perry is making her most exciting music in years, and within the span of a few months, she has completely shifted expectations for her next project among pop junkies. A longtime superstar just released a quiet, slightly weird, brilliant single. Such things should be celebrated.