CARLY RAE JEPSEN
BOTTOM LINE No “Maybe” about it, Jepsen has found her groove
Carly Rae Jepsen clearly doesn’t have any trouble with follow-ups.
She followed her omnipresent smash single “Call Me Maybe” with one of the most critically adored albums of the decade, 2015’s “Emotion,” which combined raw, personal lyrics with sleek, ‘80s-styled synthpop even better than Taylor Swift did. So what does Jepsen do next? She delivers another stunning album – this time, less about “Boy Problems” and more about healing from heartbreak enough to fall in love again.
“Dedicated” (Schoolboy/Interscope) shows Jepsen is an artistic daredevil. Sure, there’s her funky reworking of “He Needs Me” (the Olive Oyl song from the “Popeye” movie) for “Everything He Needs,” which she co-wrote with Merrick native CJ Baran, who also worked on “Emotion.”
“Want You in My Room,” which Jepsen co-wrote with Jack Antonoff, sounds like she is going to bust out some Siouxsie & The Banshees as she declares, “I’m like a lighthouse, I’m a reminder of where ya going.” But then, she is seemingly overwhelmed with the giddiness of new love and is surrounded by weird, synthesized voices and floating sax solos. The ska-tinged opening of “I’ll Be Your Girl” is another treat. And even the irresistible pop of “Now That I Found You,” currently inescapable as part of the new Target ad campaign, carries her theme forward.
Jepsen occupies an interesting corner of the pop landscape. She brings a risk-taking, dramatic element to crowd-pleasing dance numbers like “Too Much,” maybe the best on an album with plenty of standouts, and last year’s hit “Party for One,” which appears on the deluxe edition of “Dedicated,” to create a sensibility that is distinctively hers.
Her mix of earnestness and vulnerability makes the closing dance anthem “Real Love” work, creating a more radio-friendly cousin to Robyn’s powerful “Honey” from last year. And just like “Honey,” Jepsen’s “Dedicated” is destined for numerous best-of lists this year.