Chances are if you're reading this review then you're in one way or another surprised by what you heard on Carly Rae Jepsen's latest record. You may be in camp A, bitterly disappointed that this album that's been four years in the making just didn't live up to the lofty expectations that you had for it. You may be in camp B where you think it's good but, much like the camp around the corner, you're still a little let down by the lack of a certain je ne said quois.
Or, like me, you're over in camp C, up in the lofty hills where the air is fresh, where we've been sultry dancing since the record dropped last week, trying our very best to replicate the vocoder effects used on Everything He Needs while sneering down at those in the valley below who aren't as satisfied with this album.
At a certain point, maybe I would be contemplating my residence at one of these other camps, putting down my deposit for an advanced spot because...surely there's no way that Carly would manage to follow up one of my favourite albums of all time in addition to one of the best EPs of the century, especially when said great record was seen as a surprise? Right? The nihilist in me said fluke but with Dedicated, it's become staggeringly apparent that Carly is a talented artist who just needed a certain push, by herself, to go down this path that is providing a plethora of rewards.
You're really spoiled for choice when it comes to this album in regards of highlights. I could bring up Real Love, the penultimate song of the standard edition, an absolute banger but in the same sense that The Iron Giant was a great super-hero film: not necessarily untrue but it's unconventional in that bracket and it's also made me cry like a baby more times than I'm willing to admit. There's Feels Right, the one track with a guest feature and this is certainly a quality not quantity approach, Electric Guest showing why that element of nature in their name is apt by accompanying in a chorus that is simultaneously oozing and jolting with energy.
No Drug Like Me, a single that I found a little tame in no small part due to the tried and tested lyrical cliche of comparing love to drugs, just clicked which mainly comes down to how well Carly sells these songs: when she says she's infatuated, she's fully committing to the act with her gaspy delivery that's just dripping with endearment and by the time the chorus comes around, the album's name holds true.
It would be so easy to just write this album off as one about love, and you'd not be too far of the mark, but you'd be oversimplifying it. Dedicated has multiple journey points, from the initial attraction to the getting to know each other stage, all the way to fully committing to someone, leaving your worries at the door and surprising yourself. No two songs are the same because even if we remain in the one location, we're ruffling through the drawers, soaking in the scenery and diving in deeper to this relationship. It's great to keep moving forward but it's important to be in the moment too.
EMOTION holds a special place in my heart and always will but it's impossible to deny how well Carly pulled off a seemingly impossible feat of not only delivering a record that goes toe to toe with her often regarded magnum opus but pulling it off so well that it could go down as her best album.
Well, for now that is.