“Love’s so fast, I can’t go slow.”
Carly Rae Jepsen explores being unapologetically in love on her fourth studio album Dedicated. Jepsen relives her love life through 13 tracks with an additional two songs on the deluxe version. The record is a mixture of flirtation, longing, jealousy and heartbreak. But mostly synthesizers.
The Canadian pop singer became well known early in her career with the 2012 single “Call Me Maybe,” a radio hit that topped the Billboard Hot 100 for nine consecutive weeks. She continued to build a dedicated fan base with her subsequent releases, Kiss and Emotion.
Dedicated reflects the singer’s musical growth between albums. Her conventional pop productions take on more mature subject matter and she experiments with incorporating diverse sounds. The release does disappoint in some aspects with uninventive lyrics and an unfortunate lack of standout vocal performances. Despite this, the high energy, undeniably catchy and well-crafted beats and melodies on the album will make you forget about any of its’ faults and leave you singing along instead.
“Julien” opens the album with a nostalgic feeling in both the lyrics and sound. The swirling retro synths accented by sparkling chimes and a bright guitar will have you daydreaming of the one who got away and the 1970s.
Jepsen succeeds in delivering a synthpop selection filled with songs perfect to dance to at a party or alone in your room. Move your feet to the electronic disco beat of “Now That I Found You” or the honest and high energy track “Happy Not Knowing.”
A standout is the groovy “Automatically In Love,” with crashing drums and modulated background vocals that elicit an automatic head bobbing upon first listen.
The songwriter diverges from past records and a newfound maturity is established when sexual desire and intimacy are highlighted on “No Drug Like Me.” The sultry synths and saxophone that are paired with suggestive lyrics are a contrast to her typical youthful energy.
Experimentation comes with risk and Jespen’s new subject material does not always mesh perfectly with her established sound. The bouncy piano tune and laser tag sound effects of “Everything He Needs” feels disjointed accompanying serious and provocative lyrics.
Jepsen explores uncharted territory for herself musically as she incorporates new genres with a unique island vibe on “Want You In My Room.” “Feels Right,” a collaboration with Electric Guest, also offers a different direction, focusing on funk and proving to be the most diverse song on the album with its’ unique instrumentation. The track incorporates band instruments at the forefront, brassy horns, claps and makeshift water glass percussion with her typical electronic pop to achieve a Motown sound.
The most out of character song is the obsessive anthem “I’ll Be Your Girl.” Lyrics from Jepsen’s past albums have focused heavily on positivity and portrayed her as naive in love. She taps into a darker headspace here, singing “Now you’re in love, I can see you sold out / Where was I, pic-picture, cut my eyes out.”
While Jepsen is not pushing the boundaries of pop with Dedicated, she does create a celebration of the sounds and sentiments that make the genre so enjoyable. The beauty of a Carly Rae Jepsen song is that it does not take itself too seriously. Dedicated further solidifies her music as an unwavering voice of honesty, unashamedly pop and a go-to for your summer soundtrack.
If you obsess over singers and bands, and are one of those people who make a playlist for every occasion, join CMN’s Music Journalism Course and get real-time experience, intense feedback on your writing, exposure to music industry insiders, and a great place to display build your portfolio. Get all the details on the Music Journalism Course here.