Thursday 15 October 2015

Selena Gomez - Revival

Selena Gomez - Revival

If previous album ‘Stars Dance’ saw Gomez maturing from her Disney days (if you can call a string of forced Rihanna-esque sex jams “maturing”), then this new album sees her reaching actual maturity. It’s title, ‘Revival’, is a fitting one – Gomez has finally shed her cutesy image, left behind her relationship with Bieber, and been reborn as an R&B-pop star. Just look at the cover art.

Of course, many will still read into the lyrics. It’s almost too easy to do so: “I feel like I’ve awakened lately, the chains around me are finally breaking”, she sings on the opening title track, whilst album highlight ‘Sober’ revolves around the chorus “you don’t know how to love me when you’re sober”, perhaps a nod to Bieber’s not-so-squeaky-clean reputation. Equally, the album is simply full of great pop songs. Gomez is above pointing fingers, it’s about time everyone else caught up.

‘Revival’ is a darker, more sensual affair than Gomez’s past material, as lead single Good For You exemplifies. She’s clearly been listening to plenty of Drake and The Weeknd (hasn’t everyone?), lending a strong hip-hop feel to the track even without A$AP Rocky’s rap verse. Fittingly, there's a misogynist argument that Good For You is less empowering and more yielding to a man (the repeated "I just wanna look good for you"), but there's just something heart-stopping about the lyric "syncopate my skin to how you're breathing".

Sonically, then, ‘Revival’ is still following trends rather than creating or subverting them. Kill Em With Kindness, for instance, is a fairly generic club track with obligatory whistle motif, whilst the likes of Me & The Rhythm and Survivors are polished and easily likeable if nothing new.

The key difference with this album, though, is the assistance of some major pop talent on almost every track. Stargate return after they produced her last big hit Come & Get It; Max Martin, Mattman & Robin and Benny Blanco all offer some input; whilst Rock Mafia and Hit-Boy bring a harder edge to the production. The result is a far stronger offering than Gomez’s previous albums. Yes there’s an obligatory ballad in Camouflage in which she offers some Disney-esque vulnerability, and closer Rise is literally preaching to the audience (“make your higher power proud”) though its staccato groove and gospel choir make for an intoxicating mix. But then there’s the percussive finger-clicks of Hands To Myself and its knowing “I know I could but why would I want to?” lyric. There’s the twisting, sinewy sounds of Same Old Love. There’s the Latino fire of sex club jam Body Heat and the yearning nocturnal sensuality of sex club jam Good For You. And there’s a brilliant pop single in Sober that pairs a soaring melancholic chorus with a heavy beat and plenty of shouty “heys!”.

You may have disregarded Gomez back in her Disney days. You may have disregarded her last album as wannabe rubbish. But with ‘Revival’ she’s finally hit the jackpot. And if she’s following Britney’s trajectory, there’s still plenty more to come.


Gizzle’s Choice:
* Hands To Myself
* Sober
* Good For You

Listen: ‘Revival’ is available now.