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The student news site of Hollis Brookline High School

The CavChron

The student news site of Hollis Brookline High School

The CavChron

Conan Gray Finds New Sound with ‘Found Heaven’

Album cover features Gray in a yellow and black jacket, with a colorful painted face. | Republic Records
Album cover features Gray in a yellow and black jacket, with a colorful painted face. | Republic Records

It’s April 5, 2024, but Conan Gray whimsically whisks the world back to the 1980s with the release of his third album, Found Heaven. Featuring 13 songs, Gray experiments with new sounds and themes, carefully crafting together the story of love and heartbreak through a synthpop lens.

He begins this story with eerie chanting, leading the listener into an emotional and religious-themed title track. Connecting with an LGBTQ+ audience, he touches on important ideas of religion and sexuality, all while creating a catchy introduction. He sings to the listener, “You found heaven,” welcoming us to the album.

Gray’s enthusiasm for his new sound translates into a similar excitement in his audience. “Never Ending Song” and “Lonely Dancers” perfectly capture the synthpop vibe, with a production and beat that make it almost impossible not to get up and dance around.

As you listen closer, you begin to notice the intricate and powerful storytelling Gray employs, tearing apart your heart while you tear up the dance floor. “Alley Rose” begins with an all too relatable feeling of being dumped, that conveys messages of doubt and trauma as it continuously switches from storytelling to upbeat pop. “Fainted Love” shares a similar structure, with dynamic vocals that powerfully convey the story of a one-sided relationship.

While Gray’s skill in carefully crafting these complex stories makes his music feel real, his vocals are what truly connect with his audience on a more personal level. “The Final Fight” provides a short, but welcomed glimpse into his powerful voice, while “Eye of the Night” leaves the listener wanting more of Gray.

Although this 80s dance-pop focus provides a unique break from modern pop, many of the songs are lacking in songwriting and substance. “Miss You” feels like listening to a monotone podcast of more talking than singing, with some random instruments sprinkled in the background.

Additionally, in “Boys & Girls,” Gray chooses to repeat the same —very overly produced— line over and over, creating a stale and lackluster chorus. Such repetitive structure is also seen in “Bourgeoisieses” which chooses dance-pop production over vocals and storytelling.

Luckily, the album is saved by the powerful piece that is “Forever With Me.” While touching on reminiscing over relationships, we see a glimpse of the old Gray that once captured listeners’ hearts with simple, but emotional ballads.

The piano pairs wonderfully with his softer vocals before it transforms to a more abstract beat that matches the rest of the album. It continues by weaving his gentle vocals in with the synthpop instrumentals. This song perfectly blends Gray’s skills with his new 80s sound.

Finally, Gray gives the listener a fantastic finale with “Winner.” He returns to the stories of his emotional childhood while simultaneously digging up his old roots of piano ballads. Reminiscent of his previous album Superache, “Winner” feels powerfully raw and genuine. It captures what makes Gray so great: his ability to flawlessly express such familiar emotions.

While not necessarily a return to Gray’s greatest form, Found Heaven elevates the listener to both a refreshing and familiar sound, merging the worlds of new and old.

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About the Contributor
Mason Marshall
Mason Marshall, Arts & Entertainment Editor
Mason Marshall ‘25 is a first-year journalism student and is ready to conquer the world of reporting all things news for CavChron!  He is interested in incorporating a wide range of opinions through interviewing lots of people in the HB community.  In 2024, Mason begins his new monthly column, HBHS Happiness Journal, in hopes of highlighting joy and positivity in the community. When he’s not being a STEM-wizz in the HBHS Science Olympiad and Math Teams, Mason loves to race down the slope on the HBHS Alpine Ski Team.  Anytime it snows, you are bound to catch him somewhere on the mountain chasing the powder.  Mason is also an avid lover of all things National Parks and outdoors, so sun or snow he will likely be on some form of trail.  He also loves supporting the local community through his involvement as the HBHS Red Cross Club Vice President.  Fun fact: Mason has donated his blood!    Awards: Best of SNO: Conan Gray Finds New Sound with ‘Found Heaven’
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    Melinda MarshallApr 8, 2024 at 10:26 pm The CavChron Pick

    Excellent review! Makes me want to listen to the album to see if I agree with your assessment!