Carly Rae Jepsen became the breakout star of 2011 with her infectiously catchy bubblegum pop track "Call Me Maybe." The warmly received single left listeners wondering if they had a genuine star on their hands or another one-hit wonder. The wait is over.
"Kiss" is Jepsen's first major release in the US and second official studio album. The proceedings kick off with a reserved and pleasant track titled "Tiny Little Bows" that playfully interpolates Sam Cooke's "Cupid." Before the listener realizes it, s/he's been subtly lured into a synthetic landscape of 80's sounds with 50's sentiments. The cynicism of the 2000's is absolutely nowhere to be found. Even heartbreak sounds gratify in Carly Rae's joyful wonderland.
From the bubbly stomper "This Kiss" to the decidedly more contemporary "Tonight I'm Getting Over You," the album etches out a clear identity and stays completely on course without falling into the rut of redundancy. The result is infectious and enjoyable, flatly more fun than anything else released this year.
Jepsen's pleasant and underlyingly sensual vocal delivery allows her to deliver lines that would sound ridiculous coming from anyone else ("If you cut a piece of guitar string, I would wear it like it's a wedding ring"), except perhaps Owl City. And he shows up for the party on "Good Time," a non-descript ode to happiness where an unnamed Prince song is contemplated for no apparent reason. This trend of generally odd lyrics continues on quite a few tracks for listeners paying attention.
This quirky quality compliments the equally quirky and hyper-slick production. Danceable synthetic sounds haven't sounded this warm and inviting since Whitney Houston's mega-hit "I Wanna Dance with Somebody." Jepsen's sonic stylings make Katy Perry seem downright dark by comparison. Yet somehow, the effect is knowingly playful and never annoying.
The most refreshing facet of "Kiss" is how completely effortless it all sounds. While influenced by contemporary pop trends, the album revels in its own aural identity, completely unconcerned with matching the competition move-for-move. The result is one of the best pop albums of the decade thus far.
Download these tracks: "Call Me Maybe," "Turn Me Up," "This Kiss," "Tonight I'm Getting Over You"
Carly Rae Jepsen