Arts, Music, Review

Conan Gray Finds a New Sound in ‘Found Heaven’


Conan Gray always finds his niche when he’s writing and singing songs about heartbreak and tragedy, and his third album Found Heaven is no different. The sound and production he presents, though, are completely uncharted territory for Gray. 

You’ve probably heard of Gray from his TikTok viral hits like “Heather” off Kid Krow, or “Memories” off Superache. His signature style captures a light, higher pitched vocal tone. There’s more of that sound on Found Heaven, but Gray also gives listeners a new range of lower vocals to pair with his new production style.

Found Heaven is an ode to ’80s synth-pop as Gray uses a variety of different rhythms that seem to fall into two main categories. A few of the songs are more basic, with repetitive choruses reminiscent of background music at a neon-themed roller rink. The rest of the songs are classic Gray ballads, with the twist of the ’80s production.

For the most part, Gray makes both types of songs on the album work in his favor.

“Found Heaven,” the song which Gray names the album after, kicks off Found Heaven but is actually one of the weaker songs on the album. It leans into some of the ’80s cliches of music, so it’s a bit of a shock to ears that are used to a typical Gray song.

It sets up a nice transition, though,  into “Never Ending Song,” the album’s lead single. While at times lyrically repetitive, Gray takes full advantage of his lower vocals to give listeners something catchy and easy to sing along to. It’s easy to find yourself wishing this song would never end.

“I can hear your voice / In the music on the radio / And it goes on and on and on / Like a never-ending song,” Gray sings in his newfound low vocals.

Later songs on the album follow the same precedents “Never Ending Song” set, to varying levels of success. 

“Lonely Dancers” and “Killing Me” were good ways to build upon Gray’s new energy, as the repetitive choruses are in lower tones while the verses jump up to Gray’s typical higher pitch. 

The vocal combinations, along with the background production, give life to what would otherwise be basic songs. 

“Bourgeoisieses” and “Boys & Girls” are stabs at the same type of song, but don’t sound as developed. It’s almost like for these songs the ’80s production was too heavy, and it outshines Gray’s voice. The repetitive choruses also aren’t as catchy, and come off as annoying.

If there are any misses on Found Heaven, it would be those two songs.

Gray’s best songs on the album, both lyrically and production-wise, are his ballads. They have Gray’s signature essence of longing and heartbreak in the vocals, but also lean into the ’80s theme. 

One of the songs that helped carry the album was “Forever With Me.” The piano intro, heartfelt lyricism, and impeccable vocals from Gray make it a clear standout on Found Heaven

“I ain’t sorry / Though I should probably be / I think I’m gonna love you, you’re forever with me,” Gray sings with emotion and a guitar background. 

Similarly, “Alley Rose” and “Winner” are both ballads where Gray finds himself in his element, despite the album’s different production vibes. When Gray is able to belt out his feelings and let himself sing without limits, he creates songs that really stand out and can connect with listeners. 

“Miss You” starts off with some regular speaking from Gray in typical ’80s fashion, and Gray jumps between different vocal registers throughout most of the track. It’s one of the most unique songs from Found Heaven. The listener has to appreciate the way Gray weaves in some whispers and background harmonies to elevate this track. 

“The Final Fight” and “Eye of the Night” don’t sound similar but are structurally one and the same. They’re fast-moving with strong instrumentals and Gray’s powerful voice, working as short interludes sprinkled throughout the album. 

Gray is rebranding his sound in Found Heaven, but it’s definitely a welcome adjustment for Gray’s fans. 

He finds strength in the classic, high-pitched tragic ballads that he’s known for, while his newly deepened vocal register—which works most of the time—makes him a double-edged sword among his generation of artists. 

April 7, 2024