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Has Conan Gray Found Heaven? a Review of the Singer's Third Studio Album

Music & Podcasts

Mon, May 06

“You're in love, You found Heaven…”

…is the perfect way to describe how I felt the first time I listened to 25-year-old singer-songwriter Conan Gray's album, Found Heaven, when it was released on April 5. This lyric is from the first track of the album, also entitled “Found Heaven,” and it is an excellent introduction to the emotional rollercoaster fans are certain to experience when listening to the album.

Conan has been releasing music since 2018 and is known for writing raw, emotional songs that tell stories about sadness and heartbreak. Some of his most popular songs include “Heather,” “Memories,” and “Astronomy.” However, Found Heaven provides fans with a very different listening experience, especially because of its musical inspirations drawn from the 1980s. Here are my thoughts on Found Heaven and why I think it is one of the most original pop releases of the year.

The Anticipation Surrounding Found Heaven

Conan teased Found Heaven for nearly a year, first catching fans' attention when he released the album's second track, “Never Ending Song,” in May 2023. From the very first energetic beat drop, it became clear that Conan's third album would be different from his previous release, Superache, a powerful album filled with ballads about unrequited love, longing, and heartbreak.

The “Never Ending Song” music video contained many clues about Found Heaven. For example, the video featured the official symbol of the album, a teardrop with a star in the center, and took place in a grocery store called “Food Heaven,” referencing the album's title.

Republic Records from Wikimedia Commons

In the following months, Conan went on to release the singles “Winner” and “Killing Me” before sending his fans on a scavenger hunt in record stores across the world to unscramble the title of Found Heaven. After all of the teasers and hints leading up to this announcement, fans were more than ready for the album's release earlier last month.

A Nostalgic '80s Aesthetic

One of the first things you are likely to notice when listening to Found Heaven is that the sound—particularly because of the use of synthesizers and drums—is extremely reminiscent of the pop music of the 1980s.

The '80s are a decade that Gen-Zers have become fascinated with over the past several years, especially due to the popularity of Netflix's hit TV show Stranger Things. Conan's album provides a modern and refreshing take on one of the most memorable eras of pop music, setting him apart from artists who often choose to conform to today's pop culture standards.

Some of the most '80s-sounding songs on the album include “Forever With Me,” a sad yet romantic ballad, and “Fainted Love,” which revisits the lyrical storytelling aesthetic that was common throughout the decade.

Conan's intention to recreate an ‘80s vibe in Found Heaven is made clear in many of the track titles, which make direct references to popular songs from the ’80s. For example, “Never Ending Song” resembles Limahl’s “Never Ending Story” (which regained popularity after it was featured in Stranger Things), and “Eye of the Night” resembles Survivor’s well-known “Eye of the Tiger.” While Conan's titles may be similar to these '80s hits, his songs are very unique and effectively communicate his poetic writing style and authenticity.

Additionally, the music videos Conan released to accompany “Never Ending Song” and “Lonely Dancers” feature '80s iconography, including leather jackets, jukeboxes, and vibrant dance floors. These visuals add to the overall theme of Found Heaven and show viewers what to expect from the album.

Notable Tracks

My current favorite track from Found Heaven is “Alley Rose," which Conan recently revealed to be a favorite of his as well. Conan has been very open in talking about the inspiration behind the song, which was his first-ever breakup. In a recent Genius video, Conan recounted the horrifying experience of being dumped via text after flying all the way to London to visit the person he was dating. He stated that “Alley Rose” “is not a song about hating someone, it's very much a song where I look at something that happened and I'm really grateful.” I think that this mindset is communicated strongly throughout “Alley Rose,” as it expresses Conan's reflection on the event rather than anger or resentment. Some of the best lyrics of “Alley Rose” are from the bridge:

“'Cause I swore necks were made for bruisin' / I swore lips were made for lies / And I thought if you'd ever leave me / That I'd be the reason why.”

A surprisingly popular fan favorite off the album is “Bourgeoisieses,” which has in part gone viral over its confusing spelling and pronunciation. A “bourgeois” refers to “a middle-class person,” and the song reflects on Conan's upbringing as a “low-class guy.” “Bourgeoisieses” is insanely catchy, and listening to it even once will have you chanting the lines of the chorus over and over again in your head:

“I want to be with the bourgeoisieses / I want to see how the bourgeoisieses party all night…”

One of the most powerful tracks on the album, however, is “Winner.” The song references Conan's difficult childhood, which he has been very open about in previous songs such as “Family Line.” In an Instagram post celebrating the song's release last August, Conan wrote that “i’ve spent my whole life running from any memory of anything that ever hurt me. but i’ve begun to see that there is a certain freedom in recognizing that you’ve been hurt." This theme is particularly expressed in the lyrics:

“Yeah, there's nothing / That ever did quite kill me / More than what you did / Now you really are the winner.”

“In all the things that make you cry, the happiest moments of your life and the saddest moments of your life, there is a magic in the fact that you even got to experience it at all.”

Conan recently made this statement in an interview with Billboard, and I think that it is a perfect description of the stories of emotional love, loss, and acceptance Found Heaven creatively tells. Overall, I think that Found Heaven is one of Conan's best releases to date, and I highly recommend the album to anyone looking for a unique and upbeat yet nostalgic and emotional listen.

Mattie Diaz
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Writer since Mar, 2024 · 3 published articles

Mattie Diaz is a Music Business major at Berklee Online, an extension of Berklee College of Music. She is based in the greater Boston area and aspires to work in the live music business. Mattie enjoys spending her time traveling, trying new restaurants, and attending concerts.