Lady Gaga released her new album, “Chromatica,” on Thursday night, marking a pronounced return to the sleek dance-pop sound that made her a star more than a decade ago.
Her first studio album since the classic-rock-inspired “Joanne” in 2016, “Chromatica” follows Lady Gaga’s Oscar-nominated acting turn in director Bradley Cooper’s 2018 remake of “A Star Is Born,” in which she played the showbiz-ingenue role previously portrayed by Barbra Streisand and Judy Garland. (“Shallow,” one of Gaga’s rootsy power ballads from the movie musical, won an Academy Award for best original song.)
The new record — whose original April 10 release date the singer planned to celebrate with a surprise appearance at that weekend’s since-delayed Coachella festival — goes long on the type of throbbing beats and synthetic textures that Gaga was drawn to for early hits such as “Just Dance,” “Poker Face” and “Bad Romance.”
Her studio collaborators on “Chromatica” include rave-circuit regulars such as BloodPop, Axwell, Madeon and Skrillex; the 16-track album also contains much-hyped features by Ariana Grande (“Rain on Me”), K-pop girl group Blackpink (“Sour Candy”) and 73-year-old Elton John, who duets with the singer on the pulsing “Sine From Above,” about feeling young when you’re immortal. (In a possible sign of its twisted path to “Chromatica,” “Sine From Above” is credited to a whopping 13 songwriters, including Ryan Tedder and the teen-pop veteran Rami Yacoub.)
“I’ll keep on looking for Wonderland,” Gaga sings in “Alice,” which carries echoes of Crystal Waters’ 1991 dance staple “Gypsy Woman”; “911,” with a lyric regarding mood-stabilizing drugs, has the singer processing her voice with an android-like effect.
In a recent interview with Apple Music’s Zane Lowe, Lady Gaga described the album as being about healing and perseverance — about “dancing through pain,” as she put it, while detailing her struggles with mental health. But “Chromatica” arrives, of course, just as the COVID-19 pandemic has shut down the very festivals and clubs in which the singer might’ve envisioned her new music coming to life.
“I can’t wait to dance with people to this music,” she told Lowe, “to show them how much I love them.”