Liner Notes: Conan Gray returns with sophomore album ‘Superache’


Graphic by Olivia Abeyta

Conan Gray’s sophomore album “Superache.”

Charlotte Varnes, Managing Editor

Conan Gray returns with “Superache,” worrying about what-ifs, falling in and out of love and reflecting on growing up in his sophomore album. 

The themes aren’t too different from what Gray’s debut “Kid Krow” explores, and his clever-yet-heartbreaking songwriting remains powerful as ever. His ability to make the seemingly mundane resonate and fit into a broader story also remains. 

But “Superache” feels decidedly more grown-up. Gone is the craziness of high school parties and friendships documented in “Kid Krow.” Gray’s approach to relationship woes and reflecting on his past is much more weighty and mature in “Superache.”

Perhaps the most significant theme in “Superache” is love, whether that love is already lost or yet to come. Gray is certainly a hopeless romantic and he wears his heart on his sleeve throughout the album. 

“Movies,” the opening track, draws the listener right in as Gray wistfully sings that he wants a love like what he’s seen in films. The track ebbs and flows as Gray describes the ups and downs of his relationship, from fighting in the car to dancing in the dark. He comes to realize his love isn’t anything like the movies. The song provides an insightful look into Gray’s hopes and dreams when it comes to love.

As much as Gray hopes to find the perfect love, he worries he’ll get in his own way. In “People Watching,” first released in July 2021, he sings that he cuts people from his life like tags on his clothing, leaving him alone with nothing but hope. In “Disaster,” he stresses about how many things could go wrong if he turned a close friendship into a romantic relationship. 

It seems these anxieties might stem from Gray’s relationship difficulties in the past. Over the rest of the album, he details excruciating heartbreak — both in his romantic and familial relationships.

“Memories” is perhaps the album’s strongest song about a romance’s fallout, as Gray wishes an ex-lover would remain firmly in his past. The song starts slowly and builds momentum throughout, as Gray pleads with his ex to leave and calls them out for “playing the victim.” Gray’s raw emotion is palpable by the second pre-chorus, when he proclaims he can’t be his ex’s friend or lover.

One of the album’s most difficult yet poignant listens is “Family Line.” Over a muted, melancholy instrumental, Gray chronicles his traumatic upbringing that ultimately led to his parents’ divorce. He draws lines between his traits and his family members, but he rejects his father by singing that they are “not the same” despite being related.

Gray closes the album with “The Exit,” in which he somewhat jealously watches an ex move on from their relationship. It’s certainly not a happy ending, but it fits the album’s general melancholy quite well.

As a whole, “Superache” is a strong sophomore effort. One flaw, however, is the lack of catchiness and upbeat tempo like in “Kid Krow” hits “Maniac” and “Wish You Were Sober.” While “Superache” isn’t exclusively sad, slow songs, the album would have benefited from at least one or two fast-paced, sing-along singles.  

There’s no doubt Gray is a stellar songwriter, spinning emotions into devastating and relatable lyrics. As amazing as his music is, it’s difficult to see him wind up sad and spurned over and over. So, while “Superache” was a wonderful effort, here’s to hoping Gray is happier the next time around. 

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Twitter: @charvarnes11

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