After years of releasing singles and an EP, Sunset Season, Conan Gray released his debut 12-track album, Kid Krow, on March 20. As a 21-year-old indie pop artist, Gray is inspired by prolific lyricists and storytellers such as Taylor Swift and Lorde.
Candidly describing himself as, “not the coolest person on earth,” Conan hopes that Kid Krow reaches people who feel this way so they know it’s okay to be different. This album is a carefully constructed project that was made to convey the feelings of a young man who identifies with being a “crow.” His record label, Republic Records, describes this idea explaining, “In mythology and throughout history, a crow traditionally represents destiny, magic, and eventual rebirth. Clear parallels may be drawn between this mystical creature and Conan Gray.” His chaotic energy intertwined with his authentic lyrics and nostalgic melodies, makes you feel like you’re listening to someone read pages out of their diary.
The opening song,“Comfort Crowd,” acknowledges the need for social company–a feeling everyone currently practicing social distancing can relate to. Beneath the melancholic tone of the lyrics is an instrumental commanded by spacious harmonies and a prominent bass, making it dazzle with simplicity. On the day of its release, Gray took to Instagram to describe the place he was in when he wrote “Comfort Crowd,” saying, “I was lonely as sh*t. All my friends were back home in Texas and I had just moved to college so didn’t have a single friend. I just remember wishing so badly that I could spend time with my best friend the way we used to. Just sit on our phones and talk.”
The personal atmosphere of “Comfort Crowd” continues throughout the duration of Kid Krow, especially on one of the record’s lead singles, “Wish You Were Sober.” “Save me ‘til the party is over / Kiss me in the seat of your Rover / Real sweet, but I wish you were sober,” Gray opens up about a complicated relationship with someone who only says they have feelings for him when they’re drinking. Despite the serious nature of the lyrics, the lively production makes “Wish You Were Sober” the perfect alt-pop hit, with a melody that builds momentum in the verses leading into the explosive chorus.
The next and possibly most popular track on the album is called “Maniac,” sharing some of the same energetic qualities we love about “Wish You Were Sober” and “Checkmate.” As a whole, “Maniac” is a testament to Conan Gray’s innate songwriting talent. With lines like, “Said you wanted me dead / So, you show up at my home, all alone / With a shovel and a rose / Do you think I’m a joke?,” there’s no denying the positive influences of studying Taylor Swift and Lorde’s music.
Other tracks that deserve recognition include, “Heather,” “The Story,” and “The Cut That Always Bleeds.” The presence of these songs on the album is profound, possessing the ability to physically make the listener feel the way Gray felt when writing them. This is especially apparent when listening to the lyrics in “The Story.” As the closing track, “The Story” does Kid Krow justice and is a perfect end to the album. After singing about heart-wrenching stories in the verses, Gray wails in the chorus, “Oh, and I’m afraid that’s just the way the world works / It ain’t funny, it ain’t pretty, it ain’t sweet.” This song communicates feeling the pain and frustration of accepting that life isn’t fair while still maintaining a positive outlook for the future.
Since social distancing is becoming the new normal around the world, leaving us with more time to spend with ourselves, I would strongly suggest taking the time to listen to Conan Gray’s Kid Krow. If you want to hear a collection of music that will make you jump, scream, dance, and cry, this album is for you: