Carly Rae Jepsen’s fourth album, Dedicated is finally here! For the past few months, CRJ has been trying to build up the hype, first by releasing “Party for One” in November 2018, then releasing both “No Drug Like Me” and “Now That I Found You” in February 2019. Finally, she announced a release date, a new tour, and another single, “Julien”, before releasing the full album on Friday.
As far as building hype goes, I’m not sure revealing a quarter of your album prior to its release is the best way to go. In November, I was already hungry for the album after hearing “Party for One”, so even just one more single would have been enough to sustain the desire. In fact, releasing so many singles might have detracted from making the actual release an “event”. It’s like when you sample ice cream flavours and end up getting too full to buy a cone.
When “No Drug Like Me” and “Now That I Found You” were released, I speculated that Carly’s new album had a story going through it, à la Lemonade. Dedicated is less of a story and more of a random collection of relationship moments and heartbreak. To her credit, CRJ covers all territories. There’s a sexy side, like if you have a friend with benefits (“Feels Right”), or you’re just trying to f-ck (“Want You In My Room”). At the same time, there’s also an emotional and self-reflective side. If you’re in love but not in the right headspace, there’s “Happy Not Knowing.” Or, if you feel like you might be coming on too strong, try listening to “Too Much”. Once I stopped looking for a narrative thread through all the songs, I started to enjoy the “stream of consciousness” feel of the tracks as they navigated the complex soup of emotions that is falling in love. If this album was out a year earlier, maybe Charlize Theron would have been more prepared for Long Shot.
While Dedicated has some cool musical moments and a catchy, overall pop synth sound, it still lags behind the genius of Emotion. Carly’s reign as Pop Queen comes from her ability to capture emotion and feeling in her songs, even if the lyrics themselves aren’t that deep. It’s what makes her music so widely appealing. I’d say only about half of the songs on this album manage to live up to this reputation. The tracks that do standout are the ones where Carly successfully transports us into the situations she’s singing about. My favourite is “I’ll Be Your Girl” because it’s musically the most interesting and a powerful and honest portrayal of jealousy. We’ve all been that person 52 weeks deep in your crush’s friend’s brother’s Instagram looking for some evidence. No? Just me? Alright then.
[first date]— lourdes (@gossipgriII) November 9, 2015
ok dont let them know i stalked them online
them: my aunt--
me: theresa or sharon
The problem, as Pitchfork’s review of the album mentions, might come from Carly’s vision for the album. From Pitchfork:
“By her own description, the album began under the working title of “Music to Clean Your House To,” a characteristically unassuming goal. The windshield-wiper synths that open “Julien” or the casual autopilot of “Automatically in Love” point to Jepsen’s other guiding aesthetic: “chill disco,” a mood that vaunts sparkling melodies over writing that can feel short on intrigue.
It's catchy and light but sacrifices some needed depth as a result.
Dedicated is almost entirely focused on love (including self-love) which means we need a Love Life Update. Carly Rae Jepsen has been with boyfriend James Flannigan since at least February 2018 and they seem to be going strong. I sometimes wonder how personal albums like these affect the relationship dynamic. If James and CRJ get in an argument, can he whip out some song lyrics? CRJ’s previous boyfriend was David Kalani Larkins, who directed “Run Away With Me”. They still work together, as evidenced by his promo post for her album release on Friday. It’s possible that some of these songs are inspired by him – do you think he knows? Maybe one day she’ll pull an Ariana and namecheck everyone.
Overall, Dedicated is a light, enjoyable listen with several bops to choose from, for a range of occasions. I’m definitely going to be dancing in the kitchen, car, and anywhere else when one of these songs comes on, but when sh-t hits the fan and I need some deep comfort, I’ll probably stick to Emotion.