"Call Me Maybe" is the highlight of Canadian Idol contestant Carly Rae Jepsen's U.S. debut Kiss. While successive singles "Good Time" featuring Owl City and "This Kiss" are solid, they are less impressive than the aforementioned juggernaut. Overall, Kiss is an average affair that suits is purpose as an album of `records' but nothing more. Some cuts are more distinct or notable than others, but most use the same blueprint, which underwrites Kiss as an entire entity.
"Tiny Little Bows," produced by Dallas Austin and Cory Enemy, yields a solid neo-disco sound. Catchy, the chorus highlights as Jepsen sings "How do you think it goes/with those tiny little bows/you're the one I want/you're the one I know/and everywhere you are/is a place I wanna go..." "This Kiss," produced by Redfoo (of LFMAO) and Matthew Koma, is slightly more distinct despite similarities to the opener. Sound proves more important than Jepsen's voice ultimately, with the chorus again being a highlight.
"This Kiss" certainly does not outperform "Call Me Maybe," which eclipses everything. Josh Ramsay produces/co-writes the `big-time hit' every artists wishes they could land. The refrain is easily memorable: "Hey just met you/and this is crazy/but here's my number/so call me maybe/it's hard to look right/at you baby/but here's my number/so call me maybe..." Locked into the neo-disco sound and confirmed by those lovely signature disco string swirls, "Call Me Maybe" is `larger than life'
"Curiosity" isn't incredibly distinct, particularly since it follows up the `queen' of the effort. The biggest flaw is an odd key change which isn't smooth in the least. While it is meant to intensify, it just comes off as clunky. "Good Time," featuring Owl City atones, yielding one of the highlights of the effort. The production is solid, notable for its synths and rhythmic components. "Good Time" is incredibly `schmaltzy' to the chagrin of more edgy-pop enthusiast, but to its credit, the songwriting structure itself is sound. The chorus is by no means intelligible, but then many aren't these days right? "Whoa-oh-oh-oh-oh-oh/who-oh-oh/it's always a good time..." Definitely not Bob Dylan or Bruce Springsteen songwriting.
"More Than A Memory" seems to recycle ideas more than revolutionize. Jepsen's lower register rears its head on the verses, though her upper register, `teenage-like' vocals are more desirable. "Turn Me Up" atones, even if it just `tweaks' the formula that predominates the album. Hand it to Jepsen to deliver a catchy chorus: "I'm breakin' up with you/you're breakin' up on me/You kiss me on the phone/And I don't think it reaches/What am I to do/And how's it gonna because breakin' us in two/is breakin' me in pieces/breakin' up with you..." Every Jepsen song referencing `calling' seems to be effective.
"Hurt So Good" has its catchy moments, but is ultimately not memorable. "Beautiful," co-written by Toby Gad and Justin Bieber provides a welcome change of pace that features accompanying acoustic guitar. The results still underwhelm somewhat, even when both vocalists combine forces. "Beautiful" comes off `too light' with not enough `punch.'
"Tonight I'm Getting Over You" punches, with Max Martin producing; the songwriting credits are lofty here. Josh Ramsey produces "Guitar String/Wedding Ring", with less notable results than his brilliant "Call Me Maybe." "Your Heart Is a Muscle" nearly works, but still lacks that extra `oomph.' Toby Gad's second production falls short like her first one (the Bieber/Jepsen duet "Beautiful). But listeners who are science enthusiasts will be glad to learn `your heart is a muscle.'
Overall, Kiss yields some potential radio hits, but as a album, it is nothing more than average. The main issue lies in the fact that the same formula is used for almost every cut, which makes all the cuts seem less distinct than they should be. 3 stars.