If you still associate Carly Rae Jepsen with Call Me Maybe, I'm thrilled to tell you that you've got a pop music goldmine to unearth. In 2015, Jepsen released her third album, Emotion; it was a commercial failure, but a critical and cultural juggernaut. I firmly believe it's one of the greatest pop records of our time; a timeless package of lightning-in-a-bottle joy.
Dedicated is the result of Jepsen's years of work on a follow-up, and the wait was worth it. Dedicated isn't quite the home-run that Emotion was (I don't think anything ever could be) but it's still one hell of a swing; a brightly painted, disco-driven pop record packed with emotional highs.
Jepsen has an uncanny ability to make vague platitudes sound like heart-on-sleeve confessions (on All That, one of the best tracks from Emotion, she tells a lover: "I will be there/I will be your friend" – and it sounds as though she's promised the world). That sense of unspecific-but-transcendent bravado is present on Dedicated: Now That I Found You, an addictive disco bop, has Jepsen celebrating a new love: "There's nothing like this feeling now that I've found you". What "this feeling" exactly is doesn't matter on a song that slaps this hard. The pounding beat says it all.
Dedicated is stacked with bangers: Want You In My Room is a pleasantly weird Jack Antonoff collaboration, while Everything He Needs is a surprisingly pretty arrangement, with Jepsen's repetition in the chorus building to a dreamy, melodic bridge. Bang in the middle of the record is its best track, Too Much, one of the few moments where Jepsen keeps her arrangements minimal. It's a pop song for anyone who apologises too much – but Jepsen subverts the cliche and channels that energy into a calm feeling of self-actualisation.
At 15 tracks, Dedicated features more than one filler song; late arrivals like Real Love and For Sure could have been axed to let the better ideas breathe. But there's plenty for old fans to dance to here – and a lot for Jepsen's doubters to discover.
Carly Rae Jepsen, Dedicated
Carly Rae Jepsen
More dancefloor delights from an unexpected queen of pop