Is it possible for someone to be a successful pop star without also looking like a high-fashion model these days? One look at Conan Gray and the answer would seem to be a resounding no. But be careful before you judge him on his sharp cheekbones and wavy locks, because Gray’s new single ‘Jigsaw’, the title track from his upcoming album, reveals a singer at the top of their game.
‘Jigsaw’, a theatrical slice of sad-boy glam-pop, is defined by Gray’s soft mellifluous vocals – almost indistinguishable from those of Billie Eilish, and the comparisons don’t end there. Eilish has obviously kicked off a bit of a trend for highly produced pop tracks underpinned by emo introspection. “You took every part of me, all the things you need / Then the rest you discard,” Gray sings, as huge guitar lines shift their weight from foot to foot. “I look in the mirror, now I’m just a jigsaw.”
Explaining the origins of the new single in a press statement, Gray says: “I wrote ‘Jigsaw’ originally as a bit of a diary entry rant for myself. I’d spent my entire life contorting myself and changing everything I used to be in order to make everybody happy. I was so used to trying to please everyone that, when it came to love, I started to do the same. I thought maybe if I dress a certain way, act a certain way, do my hair the way you’ll like, then maybe you’ll finally love me.”
He continues: “It didn’t work, obviously. By the end of it all, I ended up looking in the mirror and barely recognising my rearranged and twisted reflection. I hope that ‘Jigsaw’ is a bit of a warning to people. That destroying yourself to win somebody’s love will only leave you empty on the other side. Because in the end, that person won’t love you, just the version of you that you made for them. Instead, choose to become somebody that you love.”
While ‘Jigsaw’ feels a little overblown at times, it’s an undeniably euphoric piece of pop songwriting. Blending grunge-era guitar lines with the operatic virtuosity of Prince, it’s easy to see why Gray has garnered such a devoted fanbase. And that’s to say nothing of his elastic vocals, which, as the chorus kicks in, slide into Buckley-esque falsetto to glorious effect.
‘Jigsaw’ is Conan Gray’s first single of 2022, following the release of ‘Telepath’, ‘People Watching’, ‘Astronomy’ and ‘Overdrive’ last year, all of which – apart from ‘Overdrive’ – will appear on the singer’s much anticipated forthcoming album. If you’re hoping to catch Gray live, you’re in luck. The pop star will be embarking on their world tour in March, which will see him burn a trail across North America before heading to the UK and Europe in May and June.