On April 5, 2024, Conan Gray released his third album titled “Found Heaven.” Sonically, it is without a doubt a pop album, mixing both glam and synth-pop. It is specifically an 80s-style pop album with every song resembling the same synths and vocal layering you would expect in music from such an iconic time. Amongst all the music that sounds the same due to the TikTokification of modern pop music, “Found Heaven” asserts itself as one of the most unique pop albums released this year. Despite the upbeat rhythms in almost every song, there is also an undertone of melancholy, a Conan Gray trademark.

The title song is first on the tracklist. In an interview with NME, Gray shared, “It’s a song about finding your own sense of happiness even if it disappoints everything in your life.” It begins with a chorus angelically singing “No god above us / Can we repent this sin? / No soul is innocent / Everybody wants to love.” The use of a chorus to sing the introduction is brilliant as it reminds listeners of a religious choir and sets the tone for Gray’s discussion of religion in the song itself. However, in the aforementioned interview, the artist shifts the conversation: “I think people maybe might take the song as … a religious song, but it’s not necessarily.” Despite the singer emphasizing the track as not being directly about religion, queer listeners with religious guilt feel a connection towards it. Topics such as getting parental approval of who they love, feeling like a monster for falling in love and trying to pray it away are evoked in the hard-hitting lyrics. 

The next track is called “Never Ending Song,” which preceded the album as a single. Because of its initial release as a single, this was many listeners’ first taste of Gray’s new musical style. When he performed it at the music festival Outside Lands in San Francisco in 2023, it stuck out like a sore thumb amongst his set list full of sad, downbeat songs from his debut and sophomore albums. Many fans of what Gray himself calls “whisper songs,” such as “Heather,” were in for a shock that came with “Never Ending Song.” This song is unlike any other that the artist has released, so a few fans of Gray’s previous musical styles didn’t exactly find heaven in this particular song. The instrumental and chorus are catchy, but it feels a bit emotionless with the monotonous singing of “on and on and on,” which is completely uncharacteristic of Conan Gray who belts out emotional ballads on almost all his tracks.

“Alley Rose” was the fifth pre-released single, and Gray’s favorite song on the album. In a Rolling Stone interview, he explained, “I’d been dumped, and I was in London … So I decided to come up with a name that kind of sounded like Abbey Road.” This song reminds listeners of his song “Memories,” with the belting of the lyrics “Don’t leave me hanging alone again” before the high note in “Oh, where’d you go, go alley rose?” equating to the lyrics “I wish you would stay in my memories” later followed by “I wanna put you in the past ‘cause I’m traumatized” in “Memories.” This is one of the only songs on the album that listeners could indubitably associate with his other discography. Those who go to Gray’s Spotify artist profile specifically for a certain type of sound would find it in “Alley Rose.”

The final track on “Found Heaven” is “Winner,” also one of the pre-released singles. It’s a piano ballad about Gray’s family, a topic he has written about before in the song “Family Line” off of his previous album. He sings, “Take a bow ‘cause you’re the winner.” Here, he satirically calls out his family members’ self-centered and manipulative behavior. It is an incredibly vulnerable song about a topic that not many artists feel comfortable sharing. On top of that, it checks all the boxes of being an all-around great song. The lyrics are heart-wrenching, and the build-up to him singing “winner” in the chorus was satisfying. Being able to fully hear the rawness and realness of his voice in the pre-chorus and verses was great, but the chorus didn’t hit as hard as one might expect despite the satisfying build to it.

Verdict: ‘Found Heaven’ is unlike anything else in Gray’s discography, running against the repetitiveness of today’s diluted pop music. However, if you don’t like 80s music, you’re better off sticking to his past albums.