Carly Rae Jepsen’s ‘Dedicated’ Is More Ebullient Pop From One Of The Genre’s Best Outsiders

05.16.19 2 months ago

Interscope Records

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As of 2019, Carly Rae Jepsen has been working in pop music for exactly a third of her life. After releasing her debut album Tug Of War in 2008, she spent the next eleven years slowly perfecting her craft. Three years later, in 2011, her huge-but-shallow single “Call Me Maybe” became an unstoppable earworm, topping the charts in over eighteen (!) countries, earning her a record deal with Schoolboy Records/Interscope and a management deal with industry star-maker Scooter Braun (see: Justin Bieber, Ariana Grande, etc). While her next single, “I Really Like You” fell short of worldwide status, the cult hit album E·MO·TION that followed in 2015 raised Jepsen’s profile even further in critical circles (although many also swore allegiance to Kiss, the afterthought 2012 album that housed “Call Me Maybe”) and helped cement her fanbase into a loyal, unmoving block, determined to follow her down whatever left-of-center pop pathway she chose next.

And though Tug Of War and Kiss were four years apart, the same number of years between E·MO·TION and her brand new fourth record Dedicated caused something of a frenzy among her now, well, dedicated fans (sorry). Not even the release of a collection of E·MO·TION B-sides in 2016 could quell the hunger, nor a sparkling one-off single, “Cut To The Feeling,” for a Canadian film soundtrack released in 2017. The feeling that Jepsen’s fans were after is not another “Call Me Maybe” at all, but another E·MO·TION, a whole collection of songs that continues to build her legacy as an album artist, not a one-hit wonder.

Measuring by that standard, Dedicated will add depth to Jepsen’s discography, even if it doesn’t shine quite as bright as its predecessor. While there are a few gloomy-blue anthems to barely-there love, Dedicated luxuriates in self-assurance, like the wobbly and sultry “No Drug Like Me,” the confetti-parade confidence on “Now That I’ve Found You,” or the bright but eerie swagger-pop of “Everything He Needs.” These loved-up tracks split in tone from the obvious breakup bops — lead single “Party For One,” which rebuilds loneliness as ebullience, or the piano-meets-trap exasperation of “Right Words Wrong Time.” By going to either end of the spectrum, Jepsen displays her obvious versatility, but also fails to create a cohesive theme for the record, a pitfall she’s encountered before.

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