Carly Rae Jepsen
Appreciating Carly’s discography entails taking each release of hers as a chapter in her growth. Call Me Maybe and This Kiss from her “Kiss” album are undeniably youthful gestures of infatuation and first times, while Your Type and the eponymous track from “EMOTION” are deep bouts of longing and escape. Four years past her last pop masterpiece, we’re treated to a celebration of epiphanies about love, life, and self.
The thesis of “Dedicated” is spoken in the opening lines of lead single Party For One, where she proudly declares that “If you didn’t know that you are right for me then there’s nothing I can say.” We’re serenaded by a Carly who still loves and wants, but with her chin all the way up and more swagger in her step. “Dedicated” delivers in its thematic coherence, which is simple: Carly went through a lot of discovery and maturing, came out much more self-reliable, and is undeniably sexy in her own skin.
First track Julien opens with Disclosure-esque synth wobbles, and runs a very funky two-step vibe, which you can also find in Everything He Needs, and Happy Not Knowing, while the album doubles down on the sway-inducing groove with No Drug Like Me and Automatically In Love, which both hark back to her throwback synth-pop “EMOTION” sound.
Admittedly, this isn’t her strongest record in terms of pure bops. Throughout the 48-minute listen, the other tracks are more skippable than in her previous drops. I’d chalk this up to her attempts at less familiar pop sounds like For Sure and I’ll Be Your Girl’s tropical beats, or Want You In My Room’s ‘80s impression of the likes of Cyndi Lauper and Evelyn “Champagne” King. The forays into other sounds are still catchy nonetheless, but the melodies and leads aren’t as emphasized and layered as in her other releases.
This lack of sonic cohesiveness also means she serves up her most diverse soundscape yet. Our favorite saxophone lead is loud and clear in backing the highlight of the album, and Electric Guest featured Feels Right, which feels a bit like an RAC-meets-Lemaitre track as well. Where Carly fell short in purist pop, she more than makes up for with daring instrumentation, playful percussion, and live guitars and piano.
“Dedicated” is a walk-in-the-park tempo, funky pop record oozing with confidence and self-love. It’s not the rave party that “Kiss” is, or the underground neon club “EMOTION” can be, but it’s a treat-yourself afternoon, in your underwear, face mask on with your favorite show streaming. — Lorenzo Tan