Three years after dropping the Grammy award-winning “Golden Hour”, Kacey Musgraves is back with her fourth studio album “star-crossed”, a record that is quite literally the complete opposite of its predecessor, surrounded by a much more darker and intimate concept. While the former saw her dealing with newfound love and had a calm and breezy aura, the latter comes after a divorce, which is the main theme of the project. The shakespearean title is used to describe a love that was destined to go wrong, and Kacey explores each aspect of her past relationship on this album, making it a very well composed body of work. But unfortunately, what this album has in its concept and storytelling, it lacks in the musicality. She decided to leave her country appeal a little behind and dive into the pop world, which shouldn’t be a bad thing considering her past album had a lot of memorable tunes and she totally had potential to continue making captivating songs, but a lot of the decisions made in here feel safe, bland, and even a little bit formulaic. Instrumentally and melodically speaking, you kinda know what to expect after you reach a certain point on the record, and that makes the experience really boring and snoozy. The only thing that really kept my interest was the storytelling that, as I mentioned before, is really well done.
But even though I have my issues with “star-crossed”, there still is a lot of enjoyable moments in it, and quite a few highlights. Starting with the title track, it serves as this type of intro to the album where she basically explains the idea behind it and even though it feels like just an introduction, I can’t help but think it’s the best song on the album. It’s filled with emotion, the instrumentation is equally dreamy and psychedelic, and Kacey sounds amazing on top of it. I would even say it’s one of her most adventurous and interesting songs ever to be honest, and although she doesn’t reach the same level of quality on the rest of the tracks, the beginning of the album still manages to stay consistent. “good wife” and “cherry blossom” are good pop tunes too. They’re both memorable in their own ways – the former having a ear warming bass-line and a soaring hook, and the latter being a really charming recall to the best moments on “Golden Hour”. Past this point, the album falls into a very predictable zone where the tracks struggle to sound a little better than decent and it takes a while for things to pick back up but on “camera roll”, a gorgeous and vulnerable ballad that, through the imagery of pictures in her phone, showcases her insecurity in leaving this partner and all the good memories they had together behind. As sad and exhausting as a divorce may be, by the end of this record Kacey seems to have found stability and strength again. On “there is a light”, she realizes that there’s still hope and happiness inside of her, and the instrumentation perfectly matches that feeling. It’s the brightest moment on the record – the production exudes freedom with the show-stopping flute solo that alternates with the bridge which has a very similar melody to Daft Punk's “Get Lucky” (in fact it might be a sample).
The best moments on “star-crossed” are great, but they’re not enough to make the record stand out as a whole. A big portion of it is filled with forgettable songs that repeat the same formulas over and over and make part of the album sound one dimensional. Sure, it’s still a decent listen, but I know Kacey has potential to make incredible music, but unfortunately that wasn’t the case here. It’s somewhat disappointing.
Best Jams: star-crossed, good wife, cherry blossom, camera roll, there is a light, gracias a la vida
Least Fav Track: what doesn’t kill me