Carly Rae Jepsen’s third album ‘Emotion’ was the perfect pop transformation. After years of being written off as a one-hit wonder due to the effervescent ‘Call Me Maybe’ being played, well, everywhere in 2012, the stellar collection of 80s-influenced hits which filled the Canadian’s 2015 record finally established her as a pop force to be reckoned with. Combining new wave and synth-pop influences with fizzing hooks and brilliantly relatable lyrics, it was a big middle finger up to her doubters.
But it was a long process, with rumours claiming that Jepsen wrote over 200 songs for ‘Emotion’ with a plethora of A-list songwriters (including Sia, Haim and The Cardigans’ Peter Svensson) before settling on the dozen tracks chosen. And now, four years on, she’s seemingly tried to recreate the magic formula which led to ‘Emotion’ by once again writing several hundred songs.
The result of these countless writing sessions (this time with people like Jack Antonoff, MNDR and Noonie Bao) is ‘Dedicated’, a solid album of 15 glittering pop tunes. Once again, Jepsen borrows from the 80s, sprinkling elements of disco over squelchy synths and mixing these with sultry R&B beats.
While this methodology doesn’t always work – the gluey electronics and saccharine lyrics of ‘Everything He Needs’ border on lacklustre, while the introspective ‘The Sound’ struggles to get to the finish line – there are still plenty of nuggets of pop gold scattered throughout much of the album.
The slinky Antonoff co-written ‘Want You in My Room’ is basically what happens when a Blondie or The B52s tune is glowed up with a noughties makeover. With its brazen lyrics (“I want to do bad things to you / Slide in through my window”) being purred over the jubilant instrumentation, Jepsen has never sounded better. Cowbell bop ‘Feels Right’ bounces into a gospel-licked chorus that’s made for screaming along to on long road trips, while album opener ‘Julien’ mixes Prince-style guitars and a killer groove with Jepsen’s woozy vocals, resulting in a delicious funk-pop creation.
Following up the cult favourite that was ‘Emotion’ was always going to be a tough ask, but Jepsen has done a more than admirable job with her fourth album. Filled with lively, stylised pop tunes, she’s once again proven that she’s not just that girl from ‘Call Me Maybe’.