Likes: Sober, Camouflage, Perfect
Overall: Great writing; lyrics and vocals get drowned out by annoying, standard club beats
At this juncture in her musical pursuits, Selena Gomez is trying to set a scene of transformation. Loosening her last tie to Disney, she's moved on from Hollywood Records to Interscope/Polydor. The cover art for her freshman project with her new label is black and white, as she sits nude with no other surroundings, proclaiming a Revival. By the sound of it though, she's still in need of one. Many of the lyrics (mostly co-penned by Gomez, Julia Michaels, Justin Tranter and Rock Mafia production duo Antonia Armato and Tim James) depict an exasperated prisoner of despondency versus a revitalized being; especially on the subject of relationships (ex. Perfect). Even when sex is undertaken, there's this sense of detachment and heartache; rather than a meaningful or enjoyable activity, it's a tool or an emotional band-aid (ex. "Hands to Myself," "Me and the Rhythm"). Gomez's sexual allusions are just that, but their number and nature (which include intimations to masturbation, multiple orgasms and skilled performance) make you want to roll your eyes. The "too much at one time-ness" reeks of her trying to substantiate how much of a "big-girl" she is. She almost wrecked a perfectly good ballad (i.e. "Camouflage") with her superfluous and pedestrian use of "shit" (also on "Same Old Love") just to do that. It was like bringing beer to a state dinner. Taking that out of the equation, there was a concerted effort in the lyrics with metaphors and analogies that one could respect. Vocally, Gomez tries to stretch herself a little (ex. "Hands"), but can't surmount her marginality in this area. That kind of voice over slightly-above-average club beats (producers include Hit Boy, Dreamlab and Benny Blanco) and you've got yourself Forever 21 and XPRESS clothing store music. You know, the "chic" stuff they play overhead while you shop that's designed to keep things from being quiet, as opposed to entertain you? You know, the stuff where vocals are just a supporting effect and not the focal point? It's a shame the album's like that because, again, the writing's good (I enjoyed her thinly veiled, diplomatic dispatch to the media on "Kill 'Em with Kindness") and Gomez's Eeyore-like glumness is curiously intriguing. Before Selena decided to stick a flag in the ground, she should've made sure she wasn't taking a back seat to her own coming out party.