‘Dedicated Side B’ arrives just in time for summer

Sitting on a pile of songs and not sure which to release? Drop two albums!

Thinking about which hook works better with a certain song? Record both!

Carly Rae Jepsen has had an interesting career in pop music over the last decade. She burst onto the scene with the enduring earworm “Call Me Maybe,” a single that shot to No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100 in June 2012 and became an even bigger cultural moment for that entire summer season.

With the accompanying album’s release, Kiss, it became apparent that the singer would simply be a one hit wonder.

While that remains incredibly untrue, Jepsen has never really reached the commercial heights she did with “Call Me Maybe” nearly a decade ago. Instead, and for the better, she’s found her niche audience, producing volumes of expertly crafted pop music for true fans of the genre.

In 2015, Jepsen released one of the best albums of the decade with Emotion. Track after track, the 80s inspired dance record is incredibly fun and even more interesting. Jepsen’s unique vocal and doe-eyed perspective is escapist heaven for the listener. That isn’t to say the album didn’t have thought provoking or cheeky tunes (see “Boy Problems” and “LA Hallucinations”). The album undeperformed commercially, but remains discussed in the pop music conversation.

Doubling down in that sweet spot was Dedicated in 2019. More of the same A-list pop, Dedicated took a more indie approach, with key highlights in opener “Julien” and Jack Antonoff soaked “Want You in My Room.”

As if the album didn’t have enough bangers, Jepsen unveils Dedicated Side B. The 12-song collection is a homerun lap celebrating the sound of Dedicated with a tinge of spice. From tropical soundscapes to 80s synths, the expansive confection is delightfully breezy.

The album is a clear celebration of love. It bleeds passion and positivity, painting a portrait of unconditional love Jepsen feels for the source subject. Side A, ironically, is the better half. The front 5 songs are each incredible in their own right.

The electropop opener “This Love Isn’t Crazy” sets the tone before stripping things down for the funky groove of album standout “Window.” Both songs adopt a narrative of Jepsen encouraging her partner their love is worth fighting for.

Following these are “Felt This Way” and “Stay Away,” two sides of the same coin. Using a very similar interpolation and identical lyrics, both tracks shine and work well in the context of the tracklist. Finally, “This Is What They Say” is the cherry on top the first lap of songs, acting as the most danceable tune thus far on Side B.

The album begins to lose steam as it intentionally slows down with “Heartbeat.” It becomes clear why the next few tracks were left of the original Dedicated, but things comeback with “Comeback.” Joined by Bleachers, Jepsen turns inward for a song about herself. It’s a beautiful moment in the album even further enriched by Antonoff’s assist. It could just as easily been featured on Bleachers’ 2017 album Gone Now.

Continuing to rejuvenate the record is the high energy “Solo,” a song about a night of independent fun sitting a top a waterbed of synth. Its the perfect embodiment of dancing away the pain of heartache.

The album closes with “Now I Don’t Hate California After All,” a slightly jarring, but extremely cute closer. Its beachy production rounds out the lyrics about the golden state. Not too deep or thoughtful, the surface level mid tempo jam is nothing but fun.

That seems to be the intent of the record. Arriving in time for the beginning of the summer, Dedicated Side B is a slight, fun pop album and doesn’t pretend to be anything else. Would it have been stronger abridged to an EP? Maybe, but volume and feeding her fans consistent tunes has always been Jepsen’s game – and it still pays off.