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Album: Katy Perry, Teenage Dream (EMI / Capitol)

What Katy did next was sadly lacking a grain of substance

Sunday 29 August 2010 00:00 BST

Having spent this summer's holiday in LA and San Francisco, I know one thing for certain: Californians don't know how to party.

It's a state where everything shuts at 2am, drinks are priced to put you off even trying to have a good time, and venues have taped-off, rigidly patrolled areas where you can and cannot dance. So when, on the admittedly devilishly catchy "California Gurls", Katy Perry sings "When you party with us, you'll be falling in love", it's worth taking with a hundredweight of Saxo.

As indeed is everything else about the Christian good-girl-gone-bad (though not so "bad" she can't be sold in Walmart). Perry is essentially a less dykey Pink (that faux-lesbian single notwithstanding) with bigger boobs, and her stage-managed "controversial" persona became irrelevant the moment Lady Gaga went mega. It isn't even as if she has the saving grace of being particularly likeable: one hopes, for Russell Brand's sake, that she has qualities that have so far been hidden from the public eye.

But EMI knows what it's doing, and the combination of "conventionally attractive" plus "daring without being scary" will doubtless equal healthy sales for her second "pop" album (her earlier, God-bothering catalogue having been largely airbrushed out of the picture).

So, here she is, giving it the full Kesha about what a hard-partying renegade she is. "Peacock", a Toni Basil/Gwen Stefani-style cheerleader chant, exists purely so that she can sing the word "cock" repetitively. Christ. "The One that Got Away" reminisces about the time Katy and beau "made out in your Mustang to Radiohead", which is about as unsexy as possible (unless, I suppose, they were doing it to the Proclaimers).

From then on the whole thing degenerates into overblown sub-Evanescence pomposity, which peaks with the head-smashingly banal strong-woman anthem "Pearl", whose opening line is "She is a pyramid, but with him she's just a grain of sand...". The album ends with "Not Like the Movies", which is the "meaningful" one. We know this cos it's mostly just her and a piano, and she sounds like she's been crying. By which point so will you be, but for all the wrong reasons.

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