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Album review: Carly Rae Jepsen's 'Kiss'

September 18, 2012|By Mikael Wood
  • Portion of the CD cover for Carly Rae Jepson's new album "Kiss."
Portion of the CD cover for Carly Rae Jepson's new album "Kiss." (Interscope Records )

Much has been made over the last few months of Carly Rae Jepsen's age. At nearly 27, the Vancouver-based singer — a veteran of “Canadian Idol” with a 2008 debut available on iTunes — is a few years older than such chart-pop peers as Miley Cyrus and Justin Bieber, the latter of whom famously catapulted Jepsen's “Call Me Maybe” to song-of-the-summer status when he tweeted his approval earlier this year. (Jepsen is set to join Bieber for a North American tour that hits Staples Centeron Oct. 2 and 3.)

The chatter, not surprisingly, has skewed unkind: “Did Carly Rae Jepsen Dress Too Young for Her Age at the Billboard Awards?” demanded a recent blog headline. But even worse than reinforcing tired ideas about female propriety, this nonsense misses the point of Jepsen's strong new album, “Kiss,” which feels like a successful attempt to invest pheromone-rush dance pop with a bit of old-soul wisdom.

In "More Than a Memory," she looks back on "that night I almost said 'I love you'" with a knowing ache in her voice, while "This Kiss" punctures young-love optimism in a series of rhyming reality checks: "undeniable" and "unreliable," "sentimental" and "detrimental." Even "Call Me Maybe," that tween-beloved Radio Disney staple, climaxes with a turn of phrase that reflects her unusually long view: "Before you came into my life, I missed you so bad," she sings, and those back pages are easy to hear.

Carly Rae Jepsen
"Kiss"
(604 / Schoolboy / Interscope)
3 stars

 

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