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The Globe and Mail

Carly Rae Jepsen: Embrace the feel-good flirtation

Carly Rae Jepsen performs at the Molson Amphitheatre in Toronto on Thursday August 16, 2012.

Chris Young/The Globe and Mail

3 out of 4 stars

Carly Rae Jepsen

Are you worried that, as a very serious person, Call Me Maybe is something you shouldn't like? Perhaps you refer to it as a guilty pleasure – a common folly. ("But … but … but I also enjoy opera/theatre/ballet!" you squeal. Congratulations. Have a cookie and a juice box.) We grownups should be grateful for tunes like B.C. native Carly Rae Jepsen's summer jam, since they remind us how a great pop single can bring people together, in a way that can't be planned.

But since nobody really knows what makes hit singles catch on, Jepsen's first post-breakout album covers all possible bases. Naturally, Call Me Maybe-style dance-pop dominates Kiss, but outliers like the duet with Justin Bieber, Beautiful, or the romantic Your Heart Is A Muscle, prove she's got emotional range. "You won't pick up the phone, whatever," she stage-whispers, and you can feel the look on her face. It's not a moppet's fixed smile, but neither is it a look of disdain. See? Nuance! Take that, haters.

Recycling song titles that belong to other hits (This Kiss, Hurt So Good) seems cynical – give 'em what they already like! – but, given the pressure to deliver another Call Me Maybe, it's a minor complaint. Kiss is a pleasure from start to finish, no guilt required.

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