Katy Perry, 'Teenage Dream' (Capitol)

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Teenage Dream
Critical Mass
Label: Capitol

by Mikael Wood

When Katy Perry revealed the title of her sophomore album earlier this year, the members of dream-pop duo Beach House took to Twitter and vented about the linguistic proximity to their own latest, Teen Dream. Yet if anyone seems qualified to invoke the fantasy life of America's youth, surely it's the woman who sealed her transition from Christian-pop piety to electro-glam abandon with "I Kissed a Girl."

Teenage Dream won't disappoint parents looking for reasons to worry about their kids: On the title track, Perry encourages someone to "put your hands on me in my skintight jeans," while "Last Friday Night" recounts an evening of nonstop naughtiness -- think streaking, skinny-dipping, and ménage à trois-ing. Elsewhere, "Peacock" deploys a double entendre even Ke$ha might find crude.

Perry delivers the gurl-gone-wild stuff with requisite sass, but she actually sounds more engaged on "Not Like the Movies" and "One That Got Away" -- quieter cuts that recall her singer-songwriter days at L.A.'s Hotel Café. And she's most convincing on "Circle the Drain," a surprisingly ferocious techno-goth rant in which she unloads on a pill-popping ex with brutal finality. "You had the world in the palm of your hand," she sneers, "but you fucking choked." Word to Russell Brand: If Katy steals one of your bits, let her.

WATCH: Katy Perry, "California Gurls"

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