Conan Gray - “Kid Krow” Album Review
It’s rare when the music industry gets handed an album that so seamlessly covers a boy’s coming of age story, yet Conan Gray has conquered that feat with his debut album “Kid Krow.” After nearly five years underground, Gray has finally emerged to present his masterpiece which is a culmination of everything he has released thus far.
The wait was definitely worth it.
The album opens with an instant classic under Gray’s repertoire: “Comfort Crowd,” initially released in September of 2019. With a hushed start, “Comfort Crowd” lures listeners in with a soft acoustic sound as they step into Gray’s journey (and struggle) with love and depression.
Instantly, “Kid Krow” transitions into a few more upbeat and pop heavy tracks such as “Wish You Were Sober” and the already popular “Maniac” and “Checkmate.” These tracks bring a fun atmosphere worth dancing to the nearly somber start of the album. Yet, Gray uses these songs not just to pull listeners in, but prove what an artist can do with a pop song.
The lyrics are mature while holding tight to a lighthearted youth. “Wish You Were Sober” is a stand out on the album for its instant likability in that it’s a perfect balance of fun and earnestness. “Wish You Were Sober” draws on nostalgia most Gen Z’ers can relate to as they navigate their first experiences in love, parties and a glimpse into adult life.
The first half of “Kid Krow” is just that, too; an air of familiarity that most growing up in the digital age can relate to. While telling a personal story, Gray leaves the lyrics for “Wish You Were Sober,” “Checkmate” and “Comfort Crowd” on an open end which allows listeners to see themselves in his music.
It’s a rare feeling inspired only on occasion such as Lorde’s “Melodrama” where one can finally pinpoint their exact emotions.
The icing on the cake is the short interlude “Online Love.” The track is special for its ability to capture the experience of an online world and long distance relationships. It’s soft, sweet and has the most delicate yet precise production quality with cluttered talking and online notifications.
As the album continues, Gray calls back to the more somber tone he chose to start with as the stories begin to get more personal. Gray picks the moments that had the greatest impact on his teen years from breakups to discovering his sexuality.
“Heather” is the most heart wrenching song on Gray’s coming of age story. It’s one that has been told numerous times in music (watching your crush fall in love with someone right before your eyes), though Gray perfects it with his soft metaphors and simple production. There isn’t much more that needs to be added to this story except that extra touch of emotion.
The entirety of “Kid Krow” is undoubtedly leading up to the album’s final track, “The Story.” It’s Gray’s true coming of age story, one he’s masked his discography behind. The lyrics are simple, but incredibly thought provoking, proving Gray’s abilities as a songwriter. He doesn’t need to say much more than “I knew a boy and a boy/best friends with each other/but always wished they were.” Listeners know and understand, completely resonating with Gray’s own trials with sexuality.
Just like that, Gray brings listeners right back to where they began with “Comfort Crowd.”
What’s special about songs like “Heather” and “The Story” are their ability to tell a story particular to a single person, though forces listeners to recall their own memories. These songs strike a perfect balance between individual and whole, which dig below the surface level of teenage heartbreaks making them all the more inspiring to those listening.
“Kid Krow” is a story that rarely has the opportunity to get told in a world dominated by toxic masculinity: a boy’s coming of age story chalk full of the hard, confusing and messy feelings. It’s a soft and sweet look back on a time where things seemed so sure yet uncertain all at once.
Although a debut album, Gray shows far more than just potential on “Kid Krow.” With this collection of 12 songs, Gray proves his place as a rising front runner in the music industry.
With limited effort, Gray’s debut album will fall into history with great coming of age stories like Troye Sivan’s “Bloom,” Khalid’s “American Teen” and (who’s anyone kidding?) most of Taylor Swift’s discography.
Reviewer’s Favorite Songs: “Wish You Were Sober, “Affluenza” and “Heather”
Reviewer’s Least Favorite Songs: N/A
Jade Campos is a sophomore majoring in print/digital journalism. To contact her, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
About the Contributors
Sophomore / Print/Digital Journalism