Album Review: Carly Rae Jepsen – Dedicated

Tom Routledge reviews Carly Rae Jepsen's follow-up to cult classic Emotion

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Jepsen’s story has been told over and over with the immeasurable success of ‘Call Me Maybe’ perhaps acting like a curse rather than a gift. Mention of her name can trigger an eye roll as the endless stream of covers and radio play in 2012 come to mind. However, Carly Rae Jepsen seems to have taken this in her stride as well as not letting it hinder her creative process. Instead of chasing the next smash radio hit, she has pivoted to making the music she wants to make with little regard of sales and commercial success. Doing so has given Jepsen a new kind of fame with a loyal cult following heralding her as a reliable and relatable pop princess.

[Jepsen] is a self-proclaimed hopeless romantic who enjoys being in love

Just a few tracks into Jepsen’s fourth album Dedicated, her dedication to two things become clear. Firstly, she is a self-proclaimed hopeless romantic who enjoys being in love and feels the emotions which come with it in all their intensity. Secondly, she is committed to making consistent, 80s infused pop in its purest form. Not only does this move allow for truly excellent music to be produced, but it also sets her apart from the current music trends of RnB, hip hop and trap influences. Whilst commercial charts and the streaming general public do not currently seem to be receptive to the bubblegum, dance pop which dominated the early 2010s, this does not seem to faze Jepsen. Dedicated is a tour-de-force demonstrating that, when does right, pop music continues to be one of the most interesting and creative musical genres.

The album opener ‘Julien’, one of her career bests, is truly joyous and the shimmery 80s synths are sure to give the song significant replay value as we enter summer. Additionally, the lyrical content regarding the pursuit of an innocent, childlike romance sets a strong foundation for the rest of the album’s themes of unwavering devotion. What follows is a string of bitesize, perfect earworm pop. Songs like the Jack Antonoff produced ‘Want You in My Room’ and the slower ‘Everything He Needs’ are examples of how when commercial interest is disregarded, some of the most interesting and weird songs can emerge.

Dedicated is a tour-de-force demonstrating that, when does right, pop music continues to be one of the most interesting and creative musical genres

The centrepiece and highpoint of the album, however, comes with the Robyn-esque ‘Too Much’ in which Jepsen contemplates the intensity of her romantic feelings and whether they can be off-putting to those around her. The lyrics are heart-breaking and yet the throbbing synths and electrifying chorus make dancing irresistible. It stands out from the rest of Dedicated due to its originality amongst other songs which lyrically struggle to say anything new. This, however, is a minor flaw amongst the enjoyment and excitement which Jepsen brings to every song on the album; as a listener, you can’t help but feel like she is having the most fun of her career.

Perhaps the most admirable thing about Dedicated and Carly Rae Jepsen as an artist are found when the gap between Emotion and this album is considered. In this four-year period, Jepsen broke up with a long-term boyfriend and started a new relationship, therefore offering reason for the two groups of songs which coexist on the track list. Rather than splitting songs about lost love and new love into separate projects, Jepsen’s combination of the two show that her hopeless romantic character is willing to embrace the two most emotionally intense aspects of love. It’s what allows such a fun and celebratory song such as ‘Automatically in Love’ sit alongside the sadness of ‘For Sure’ without feeling jarring or disjointed. Dedicated is an album of emotional resilience and offers hope to never give up on love – it will always find a way.

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