After a critically acclaimed album, what do you do next? You know the press will be watching and fans will be begging for more, but how do you get it right?
Do you replicate the formula or go in another direction to keep people on their toes?
Surely these were the questions plaguing Carly Rae Jepson as she prepared the follow up to her stunning 2015 album ‘Emotion’.
Four years later we are met with ‘Dedicated’, a lacklustre follow up that doesn’t really push boundaries on many fronts, but also doesn’t offend.
While the theme of the album focuses on love, the lyrics only really skim the surface for me. Instead of proclaiming deep and complex love, everything has been put through a rose coloured filter and reads as relatively juvenile.
After the rawness of the lyrics of previous work, this comes across as a diet version, one I didn’t ask for. CRJ is at her ostentatious best when she’s making bold statements.
This blandness bleeds into the production, with the usually confident sounding Carly sounding more like she’s been put through the rinse cycle a few too many times and has come out squeaky clean. She sounds chirpy and while I can see it might reflect her passion, it just feels ‘nice’. The majority of the songs feel quite light with a bit more life missing from the bottom end of production.
Now don’t get me wrong, the songs are perfectly acceptable for modern pop songs, but I don’t hear innovation or anything new coming from something that took four long years to pull together. This album reminds me more of her second album than her critically acclaimed third one. It sounds good, but will it get the heavy plays it needs to last or will it fade into the background?
It’s not all bad news though as there are glimpses of something a little less perfect.
‘Want You In My Room’ sees her team up with Jack Antonoff who brings a bit more real life into the song. It sounds more like someone has tousled the hair of the track, rather than give it a perm.
I also love the standard album closer ‘Real Love’ as it sounds fresh, new and expected. I don’t feel like we’ve heard a song like it before.
If you’ve obtained the bonus tracks in your purchase or save of the album, they are both excellent tracks as well and are a glimpse into what might have been for this release.
It’s disappointing to me that the excitement of a new CRJ album doesn’t quite live up to the standard I think her fans expect of her.
I appreciate that ‘Dedicated’ is a perfectly competent pop album, but is that what we asked for? With the amount of throwaway music nowadays, people want something real that they connect to.
This will keep her going for now, but I can’t help but feel like there’s a lot more to come from her we still haven’t heard yet.
VERDICT : 3/5.
MUST LISTEN : Real Love, For Sure, Happy Not Knowing.