Carly Rae Jepsen is back! With a sword! And also a new album! | Concert Preview | Chicago Reader

Carly Rae Jepsen is back! With a sword! And also a new album! 

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click to enlarge Carly Rae Jepsen

Carly Rae Jepsen

Courtesy of 604 Records

At the start of 2018, Tumblr user swordlesbianopinions posted, “Petition to give Carly Rae Jepsen a sword. I like her and think she should have one.” From this, the Canadian pop star’s fans launched a social-media campaign that culminated at Lollapalooza last summer, when someone hurled an inflatable sword onstage during Jepsen’s performance of “Cut to the Feeling.” She brandished the weapon, and Twitter exploded in rapture. Jepsen is no stranger to viral fame; in 2011, she was propelled from relative obscurity to the front pages of international pop culture when Justin Bieber tweeted about the catchiness of her breakout single (and biggest hit to date), “Call Me Maybe.” But no matter how many memes she’s inspired—for which her fans have dubbed her “Queen of Everything”—they all come a distant second to her supernatural ability to churn out weapons-grade dance-floor fillers. Though her fourth album, this spring’s Dedicated, traffics in similar themes of adoration and heartbreak as her previous work, Jepsen is a savvy romantic who can always find new angles from which to explore love. On the new album she showcases an expanded sonic palette: the slinky disco of “Julien,” the euphoric abandon of “Want You in My Room” (reminiscent of Whitney Houston’s best dance tunes), and most impressively the one-two punch of “I’ll Be Your Girl” (a baroque almost-waltz, anchored by twangy guitar and shimmering harpsichord-esque keyboards) and “Too Much” (which features Jepsen's most vulnerable vocal performance, accompanied only by sparse synths). She’s touched on jealousy in the past, most notably on 2012’s “This Kiss,” but she’s never gone as far as the simmering resentment and claws-out viciousness of “I’ll Be Your Girl.” She finds the flip side of that song’s explosion of emotion on “Too Much,” where she sings about being awash in doubt and uncertainty. Dedicated fully realizes the complexity that Jepsen only approached on her previous record, 2015’s Emotion. With her expanded mastery of pop and her plastic blade, the Queen of Everything seems poised to conquer the world.   v

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