To her dedicated fans, Carly Rae Jepsen has reached the status of Pop Queen, Gay Icon, and saviour of music. Her previous album, E.MO.TION, was a surprising critical, if not commercial, success, which has brought her a number of die-hard fans, myself included. With the release of her fourth album, Dedicated, stan twitter held its breath to see whether it could live up to the hype. Could Carly Rae Jepsen, once again save pop music?
Dedicated is not like E.MO.TION. Where E.MO.TION is loud, joyous, with big declarations of (often unrequited) love. Dedicated is more subdued, confident, and laid back. That is not to say Dedicated doesn’t deliver on the big pop sounds that made E.MO.TION so enjoyable – songs like ‘Now That I Found You’, and ‘Feels Right’ ( ft. Electric Guest) are big, dance-around-your-bed-room crowdpleasers. ‘Feels Right’, in particular, opens with jazzy piano chords and mixes Jepsen’s soaring vocals with Electric Guest’s smooth tenor.
Jepsen’s influences are clear throughout the track list. Opening track ‘Julien’ is a smooth funk and ‘Want You in My Room’ is pure Cyndi Lauper pop. Not only drawing from disco, Jepsen’s influences are far, wide and often bizarre: ‘Everything He Needs’ samples its chorus from the 1980 film Popeye staring Robin Williams, and, in her own words “funks it up”. Somehow, it works.
It is only when Jepsen plays it too safe and familiar that she stumbles: ‘Happy Not Knowing’, while bouncy and fun, covers much of the same ground tread by E.MO.TION, and ‘I’ll be Your Girl’ is pretty forgettable despite its killer bass line.
But when Jepsen shines, she practically sparkles. Stand-out track ‘Too Much’ is catchy, capturing the overwhelming feeling of being in love. Her voice is breathless, with a hint of desperation. ‘Party for One’, her album closer also offers an empowering reflection on no matter how dizzyingly intoxicating love is, it is most important to first love yourself, and all that implies.
Jepsen in Dedicated is cheekier, more relaxed and confident, delivering feel-good jams and love anthems. Only time will tell if Dedicated will save pop-music, but it has surely cemented Carly Rae Jepsen’s status as Queen of Underrated Pop.
[Jo Reid – she/her – @_jomreid]