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Album Review: Carly Rae Jepsen – Kiss

Photo: Vanessa Heins

Ryan Murphy has a lot to be credited for. Single-handedly making it cool to start a ‘glee’ club, infecting the charts with unrecognisable renditions of songs we already know and producing popstars like Carly Rae Jepsen. Despite having no affiliation with the show, her breakthrough smash ‘Call Me Maybe’ has the bubbly culture spawned by the show to thank for it’s huge success. In a world where stars like Lady GaGa have sought to redefine pop, Jepsen is bringing back the cheese with a vengeance.

‘Tiny Little Bows’ is a perfect introduction to ‘Kiss’ and lets you know what to expect – bubblegum pop until the very end. It’s one of the catchiest tracks on offer, alongside the contagious ‘This Kiss’ and personal favourite ‘Guitar String/Wedding Ring’. To put it simply, we have an album full of songs that won’t leave you alone – if you aren’t singing at least one of the huge choruses displayed on ‘Kiss’, then there is something wrong.

‘Curiosity’ is arguably the standout moment as it offers up not just one, but two choruses that equal one another on the euphoric scale. ‘Tonight I’m Getting Over You’ is one of the few moments that things get mixed up a little – there is a very slight taste of dance in this one and, perhaps due to the title hook, conjures a similarity to Enrique’s ‘Tonight (I’m Lovin’ You)’ – regardless of it’s penchant for dance, it doesn’t even compete with ‘Hurts So Good’ which, without trying, is begging to be adopted by the clubs.

There are a few moments when it gets a little too predictable though. ‘Turn Me Up’ is a nice tune, but is made redundant amongst the rest of the crop. As well as this, your initial listens to the album may have you struggling to decipher which song is which. It’s all very Carly Rae Jepsen but it takes a while for each track to offer it’s own unique charms.

On the ballad front, ‘Beautiful (feat. Justin Bieber)’ is a decent enough track – the kind you’d see soundtracking a summer ad campaign, but is bettered by the magnificent ‘Your Heart Is A Muscle’; yes, it’s a bit cheesy and the hooks and backing vocals are predictable but it works well and is the perfect ballad for someone like Jepsen to be producing; it finds it’s place on the record and maintains everything Carly stands for, whilst upping the sentimental factor a new notches.

Don’t be fooled by the pale pinks and blues of the artwork, this album is a rainbow of energy and enthusiasm. It is bringing the cheese back to pop and it’s not ashamed of that fact, which is exactly why it succeeds. Serious Carly may have taken over for her debut, but ‘Kiss’ is exactly the right sound for Jepsen and it’s no surprise that it’s this incarnation that has broken through to achieve the success she’s enjoying now. Consider this review a recommendation and warning at the same time; ‘Kiss’ is an album that makes Katy Perry, by contrast, sound like Marilyn Manson, so if you love your pop bright and boisterous, then it’s one to grab, but if you prefer it with a little more edge, then you might do well to steer clear of Jepsen’s perfectly rounded edges.

Photo: Vanessa Heins
Words: Simon McMurdo

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