Conan Gray takes flight with release of “Kid Krow”

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Audrey Blaine

21-year-old singer-songwriter Conan Gray released his debut album “Kid Krow” March 20.

Conan Gray is impossible to define. He’s all the best parts of story-like songwriting with the touch of experimental sounds and a sweet voice that’s revolutionizing the pop scene. He began his career with covers and videos on YouTube and released his EP “Sunset Season” in 2018. While he has had a loyal fanbase since his early days on YouTube, Gray has shown the entire world what he’s capable of with “Kid Krow”. 

A month after the March 20 release of his debut album, the 21-year-old singer’s pop-anthem single “Maniac” has been certified gold in the US and Canada and “Kid Krow” also reached number one in the US Pop Albums chart. After listening to this album, you will either want to dance and scream at the top of your lungs or just sit in the dark and sob your eyes out. There is no in between.

Growing up, Gray moved around a lot, but spent many of his formative teenage years in suburbia: Georgetown, Texas. The final song on Kid Krow, and one of the fan favorites, “The Story” reflects on Gray’s experiences and those of people around him growing up. The song features a prominent acoustic guitar with echoing background vocals that sound as if they belong in a movie soundtrack. Gray’s words, as always, are simple and honest, something that brings him closer to his predominantly young and teenage audience. While the song details times of loss and misfortunes, Gray always comes back to the hopeful line that ends the album “it’s not the end of the story.”

Other songs like “Little League” reminisce of childhood and express the fears of growing up, and the interlude “(Can We Be Friends)?” describes Gray’s friendships in the most relatable way, while almost inviting listeners to be his friend. Gray has said that both of the interludes included on the album are really for the fans, especially those people that listen to the album from beginning to end. 

Gray often finds himself writing about love from a personal perspective, whether it’s with the revenge-seeking lyrics and catchy pop beat of “Checkmate” or the interlude “(Online Love)” that brings us close to him with just acoustic guitar arpeggios and his light, soft voice wondering “What maybe could have happened / If you weren’t just an online love.” On the classic, instant pop hit “Wish You Were Sober” Gray sings about a love-interest who wouldn’t admit they have feelings for him until they were completely inebriated. The catchy melody backed by repetitive electronic percussion is everything you could ask for in a pop song. 

Though many of his darker lyrics are covered in a melodic, happier sound, others are left with a very bare piano or guitar sound and echoing vocals in bridges. “The Cut that Always Bleeds” is a heart-wrenching song in which Gray discusses being strung along by a lover. The way he sings is almost beautifully desperate. He eventually resolves at the end of the song that he needs the person in his life more than he needs air even if the relationship or lack thereof is killing him: “Oh I could be / Anything you need / As long as you don’t leave / The cut that always.” On “Heather,” Gray sings the sad tale of loving someone and them loving someone else, and how you always hate that someone else, even if they’re a perfectly nice person. Who are we kidding, we’ve all had a Heather. Both songs end abruptly and seem to lack resolution because they leave out the last word of the song. In a YouTube interview on the Zach Sang Show, Gray notes this was intentional, because he said that these stories are still unfolding in his life. 

Gray has often described “Kid Krow” as a representation of who he is, and after listening to it on repeat, I know exactly what he means. The personal struggles woven into upbeat pop tunes and sad, emo ballads will make you want to dance or go on a drive and listen to the album all over again. By bringing honest lyrics on relatable topics with catchy melodies matched with Gray’s genuine personality, “Kid Krow” has captivated the attention of people all over the world. It’s quite a feat to share oneself so openly. As for Gray’s career, it’s evident that “it’s not the end of the story.”