Jeremy Williams-Chalmers, Arts Correspondent

Katy Perry - Smile

Katy Perry has other things on her mind this week. Having just given birth to her first child, Daisy Dove, she has spent the last few weeks promoting her sixth studio album, Smile, while heavily pregnant. Unsurprisingly the upbeat pop icon has re-engaged her audience, many of whom seem to abandon her in the criticism surrounding 2017's more sonically experimental Witness. While many may revisit that record and judge it far less harshly, given the current radio success of the very chirpily addictive title track, there is a strong possibility that Katy Perry could reclaim the #1 spot on the album charts with her new musical baby.

Where Witness may have just felt a little too distant from her pure pop sound, Smile is every bit old school Katy Perry but with a surprisingly earnest lyrical core. Although she has always worn her heart on her sleeve, and has also shown a fearless tongue in cheek approach to tackling tougher subject matters, she has never delivered an album so seriously heart on sleeve as Smile.

Yet the fact it has a bit more weight behind the pop prowess actually works in her favour. Having broken into global pop icon territory with her debut hit, I Kissed A Girl, some 12 years ago, her audience has aged and changed over that time. Although there is no denying that immersing yourself in a pure pleasure listen has appeal to her demographic.

Opening with the under-celebrated 2019 single Never Really Over, Smile starts as it means to go on. It shows a pop heart with depth, and the album delivers on this promise time and again. Strangely the title track is the most throwaway moment of a collection that boasts the stunning Daisies and truly invigorating Only Love.

Overall Smile delivers enough of the classic Katy Perry sound to not disappoint, however, many will find even greater pleasure in the additional emotional connection.