If you love being and love and haven’t listened to Carly Rae Jepsen since “Call Me Maybe” in 2012, now is the time to retool your summer playlists and let 2019 be the year you come back home to Jepsen. Having a crush (and making out, and falling in love) never sounded as good as Jepsen makes them sound on Dedicated, her fourth LP.
While nothing approaches the viral appeal of “Maybe,” a song so insanely catchy that it is likely to overshadow the rest of her career, Dedicated is loaded with tracks worth having a kitchen dance party to. It harkens back to ‘80s pop production with a touch of the early 2010s and follows the path she started going down with her critically acclaimed but commercially unsuccessful previous album, E-motions. Unlike the trends most current pop is following, down a darker path both musically and lyrically, CRJ is sticking to the kind of light, happy music and lyrics that work for roller skating or soundtracking the first kiss of the summer. The first track, “Julien,” is an ode to that person you’ll always be in love with, and it’s followed by three more perfect dance pop songs about relationships. The album, loaded down with 15 tracks, meanders a bit in the middle as it explores love from all the angles, getting a bit repetitive with “Everything He Needs,” a sweaty song about sex.
The tracks are up and down from there, hitting it out of the ballpark with “Happy Not Knowing” (a track about dodging one's feelings), “Automatically in Love” (an all-too-rare these days track about love at first sight), and “For Sure” (the most upbeat breakup song you’ve heard in a minute). CRJ’s aesthetic feels like the middle ground between Robyn’s pop for intelligent listeners, rife with complicated melodies and song structures, and Taylor Swift’s grandiose pop experiment on “ME!.” She aims to tap into a universal feeling and bring back upbeat music to the mainstream.
It’s unlikely that CRJ will ever replicate the success of her biggest hit, but it’s clear she doesn’t want to — but that doesn’t mean you shouldn't come along for her ride. The woman knows a good time when she hears one.