Carly Rae Jepsen – Kiss (2012)


OK so, I wrote a review, I want to say two weeks ago, just prior to the official release of this album but it was a bit preemptive on a number of levels, mostly that I wasnt really prepared to actually sit down and write about it properly at the time so the final product was a bit, well, shit. I have listened to this a tonne in the meantime however, and for once I actually feel compelled to erase everything and start this review from scratch.

So for the last few months the track other than “Somebody That I Used To Know” that has dominated the singles charts (here in the UK) has been “Call Me Maybe”, a single off aspiring Canadian popstar Carly Rae Jepsen’s Curiosity EP. Half a year down the line and we’re staring down the barrel of her debut pop album Kiss, and while you may look down on me for saying this (not that I care anyway) but I actually really enjoy this release.

Something that I feel increases the charm factor of this album for me is that it seems to revive a style of music that has fallen out of the public consciousness of late, one of sickly sweet naivety and innocence. “Call Me Maybe” alone epitomises this sound with its cute lyrics and (largely) non-sexual video, while its sister track “Curiosity” keeps the catchy beats going but also the teenage naivety. Something that has kept me away from the pop scene has been the unfortunate uptake of Hip-Hop and RnB and the use of far too sexual lyrics and accompanied imagery; given the largely young audience of viewers/listeners, and I hate to go all Dad on this, I really don’t think it’s appropriate. In that regard, this album is the perfect balance between the teenage angst that people still expect from pop as well as all the accompanied beats.

On first examination this album was pretty much exactly what you’d expect; loaded with pop hooks, simple riffs and syrupy vocals it passes by like a whirlwind made of treacle, walloping you as it passes to the extent that you have no comprehension of what just occurred. This album is pretty much bursting at the seams, clocking in at about an hour with a whopping 16 tracks; initially it’s too much to bear, there’s too much too soon and none of it really makes an impression; repeat listens and more track specific listening made me more impressed as I began to realise just how many of the tracks were competent entities on their own and in fact stood up to (more) critical listening. I should stress that in no way should you approach this album as something anything more than what it is; a simple, no holds barred, unabashedly feel good pop record. Don’t expect a deep and thoughtful listen, this is largely superficial, but that’s the point.

“This kiss is something I can’t resist
Your lips are undeniable
This kiss is something I can’t risk
Your heart is unreliable”

While there is nothing inherently wrong with the lyrics (as listed above, for example), they display the same flimsiness of most pop. The vocals do however tie in extremely well with the catchy riffs and hooks, to the extent that I have gotten everyone in the house addicted to “Hurt So Good” and I catch people humming or whistling it on a daily basis, with its pulsing synths, perfectly timed drops and vocal manipulations. And while I do dislike Owl City with a burning passion, his inclusion on this album is actually really quite good in “Good Time” as he trades verses and choruses with Carly, who sounds particularly sultry on this piece. The beat is determined and deeply, deeply infectious. Even Bieber is tolerable in the downtempo “Beautiful”; something of a sore thumb surrounded by pop juggernauts but a nice mid-album breather.

Yes, it certainly is “always a good time” with Kiss; there is always something going on at every point, even during quieter moments in “Guitar String/Wedding Ring” and its couplet “Heart is a Muscle”, where we even get some piano. At the end of the day, the bright poppiness will always come back, and while it doesnt come back with as much as a vengeance as I’d like both “Sweetie” and “I Know You Have a Girlfriend” keep the flow going and maintain a level of cohesion as the album closes. It may not be the world’s most original album but it carves out a sound for itself early on and to its credit does keep a grasp on it throughout its duration.

I would like to write more but I think 800 words is more than sufficient to see where I’m going with this. It is overlong, I will admit, there’s just so much content crammed into this but I can guarantee that you will find at least one track on here that you will unashamedly enjoy. As I say this is nothing more than feel good pop, no questions asked. You just know that Carly has a massive grin on her face singing some of these tracks, you can hear it in the music, and that is infectious. So yes, I do find myself enormously enjoying this, and I don’t have a problem with that whatsoever.