Album Review: Selena Gomez – Revival

Selena Gomez Revival cover

Selena Gomez is on the right track, but not quite there yet
Selena Gomez surprised friend and foe earlier this year when she made a comeback with the single ‘Good For You’, featuring a rap by A$AP Rocky. The smooth and sultry vocals over a light urban beat were something we didn’t hear from Selena before and it sounded like she found a style that perfectly suited her voice. After a few dance pop albums with occasional great tracks, but a lack of identity as an artist, it was time to lose the faceless bops and create a sound for herself to go forward with. Is the release of the brand new album Revival her moment?

It is safe to say that Revival has its moments, but it is still too much of a hit and miss affair if you ask me. Let’s start with the hits! After the outstanding ‘Good For You’, Selena launched the second single ‘Same Old Love‘, a feisty mid tempo pop track with a repeated piano sample, co-written by Charli XCX. It has a completely different vibe than ‘Good For You’, but at the same time maintained the slightly edgy and not so predictable identity of the new era. If Selena wants another huge hit, I suggest she chooses ‘Hands To Myself’ as next single. The Max Martin produced and co-written song is everything Gomez should go for right now: a subtle production, toned down and husky vocals, cheeky lyrics and of course a strong hook. The bridge towards the chorus is both melodically and vocally one of the best moments of the album and her delivery of ‘I mean I could, but why would I want to’ in the middle eight makes the song.

Another potential successful single is ‘Kill Em With Kindness’. Although Selena might want to stay away from faceless dance pop as much as possible, this is a well written and deliciously produced (the work of Dark Mafia, Benny Blanco and R3drum) example with an irresistibly catchy whistle. Gomez co-wrote it (like most of the material on Revival) and it suits her limited vocal capacity. This is exactly the reason why other tracks on this record fall flat. ‘Sober’, about an ex-lover who only paid attention to Selena when he was drinking, would have been powerful and moving if her vocals would have been strong enough to carry the chorus. The same goes for the contemporary R&B bonus track ‘Perfect’. The lyrics about jealousy and trying to compare to an ex of your lover are right on, but again Selena is not able to pull the delivery off convincingly. Although both are beautiful songs, she should learn to play to her strengths and know the weaknesses in her vocals. That’s why she should never touch ballads like ‘Camouflage’ and ‘Nobody’ in the first place.

Now that Selena has found a style somewhere in the middle of R&B and danceable pop, she should try not to fall back in to the basic territory of her previous records and this danger lures in tracks like ‘Me & The Rhythm’ and ‘Survivors’. Not that these are particularly bad songs, but that kind of thing should stay in the past of her career at this point, especially when you call your album Revival. ‘More than just survival, this is my revival’, she confidently states on the exciting title track. Although this album, which is obviously her best so far, somehow feels like a new beginning, it still misses the cohesion and personal touch to view this as her game changing moment. It’s a leap in the right direction, but she isn’t quite there yet.

Must listen: Good For You, Hands To Myself, Revival, Same Old Love, Kill Em With Kindness

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