Album Review: Gomez’s sophomore LP unrestrained, sensual

You may recognize Emmy award-winning Selena Gomez from her role on the Disney Channel hit show “Wizards of Waverly Place” or perhaps from her relationship with Justin Bieber. There’s no doubt, however, that Gomez’s music career has been successful—with hits like “Come & Get It” and “Slow Down” from her first solo album.

Gomez began her singing career with her band Selena Gomez & The Scene—though the band took a hiatus in 2012. Shortly thereafter, Gomez released her debut solo album Stars Dance in 2013 with a more electropop, electronic dance music sound.

Gomez released her newest album Revival on Oct. 9. With Revival, Gomez has officially shed her affiliation with Disney, departing the Disney-owned Hollywood Records and signing with Interscope Records. Their roster includes mega-stars Lady Gaga and Madonna.

Revival is primarily a dream pop album with an R&B and Latin/Caribbean twist. It begins with title track “Revival,” introduced by a soft-spoken verse in which Gomez says, “I dive into the future/But I’m blinded by the sun/I’m reborn in every moment/So who knows what I’ll become.” The song features an echoic beat with a pensive yet vividly intense melody and tropical harmonies. While memorability is not the song’s strength, its lyrics adequately introduce the concept and feel of the entire album.

The second track, “Kill Em With Kindness,” offers a unique, cynical perspective that’s uncommon in Gomez’s music. “Kill Em With Kindness” features a bubbly synth that resembles a whistle backed by rising, climactic EDM beats. The song’s lyrics, “The world can be a nasty place …We don’t have to fall from grace/Put down the weapons you fight with/Kill ‘em with kindness,” center around the paparazzi, gossipers and people who can’t be trusted. Gomez sends the message of rising above the hate with kindness—something expressed in the song as the ultimate—and healthiest—defense against such people.

The second single off of the album is the fourth track: “Same Old Love.” Gomez collaborated with English pop singer Charli XCX to produce this song. It is an unabashed breakup song with a memorable piano riff and catchy chorus hook. It is clear to see why “Same Old Love” was chosen as the second single off of the album; it is—by all means—a simple but standout song.

The sixth track “Good For You” was the first single off of the album, featuring rapper A$AP Rocky. This song is definitely the most seductive, adult track on the album and highlights Gomez’s voice. Her vocals stand out just like in her song “Hands To Myself,” except “Good For You” has a breathier, mellower sound. A$AP Rocky’s verse adds to the track’s memorability, complementing the R&B and experimental aura of the song.

Other highlights of the album include “Me & The Rhythm” and “Body Heat,” both of which sound like something that could have been found on Stars Dance—both tracks could perfectly be categorized as “club worthy.” Their fusion of Caribbean and EDM beats, steel drums, acoustic shrills, tambourines and lively vocals make these tracks very danceable.

Unfortunately, the aforementioned powerful standouts from Revival sharply contrast and overshadow songs like “Sober,” “Camouflage” and “Rise.” Holistically speaking, these songs are forgettable in comparison to the more upbeat tracks on the album.

Gomez certainly deserves recognition for releasing an expressive and interesting sophomore album. The transition between Stars Dance and Revival exemplify the concept of maturing—something Gomez frequently panders to in Revival. And while Gomez is more sensual on Revival, it’s not overdone nor does any song feel contrived. It is an album that stands on its own.