You need only glance at the deluxe cover art of Revival to see the more mature image Selena Gomez is presenting, alluding to the progression from disappointing pop-filler solo album Stars Dance to the vibrant and vivid Revival. Aptly named, the album exhibits a new sound from the singer whilst maintaining her signature tone, showcasing her self-described ‘revival’ from the lands of apathetic pop.
Aiming to appear more philosophical and emotional, the singer talks about being “awakened lately” whilst “the chains around me are finally breaking”. It’s clear that this album is an important step in her progression to well-rounded pop artist, and the mix of electric dance beats and sultry R&B echo the exploratory nature of the album, while showing that Gomez is trying to move on from the cutesy Disney pop image she once was known for.
What’s most surprising is how cohesive and impressive the album is. For it would be easy to assume this would be another mindless creation designed to play to star appeal, but this is simply not the case, as Gomez churns out memorable tracks in quick succession. Kill Em With Kindness is a triumphant pop-mix laden with western whistling that sees Gomez hits back at all her critics and discuss how she copes. Hands to Myself is a hushed, stripped-back, indulgent track which is bursting with personality. Notable released singles Good For You and Same Old Love are welcome additions, with the former exuding confidence and vocal presence from Gomez; seductive and smooth, Gomez may have just found her big hit.
The main draw of Revival is that it is very much a personal record, one where you can feel that Gomez had some real input in the creation of the songs, and the meaningful lyrics, behind them. Sober is a key example of this, as she sings “You don’t know how to love me when your sober/ when the bottle’s done you pull me closer”; an intimate reflection on how people can appear so different in certain lights. It’s sombre and satisfying, and Gomez reflects similar melancholy emotions in bonus tracks like the bittersweet ballad ‘Nobody’ and the sweeping ‘Cologne’, which display her more vulnerable side.
Surprisingly, the bonus track-goodness doesn’t stop there, with Me and My Girls being a seductive and self-assured anthem oozing female empowerment and sisterhood. In a similar fashion, Perfect centres on Gomez’s infatuation with a woman who she suspects her partner of having a relationship with. But this is no revenge song, instead it’s an oddly alluring R&B record with old-school vibes and harp beats.
This is undoubtedly a strong collection of songs from Gomez and her pristine production team, however, there are certain songs which simply don’t mix well with the wonderfully assembled others. ‘Rise’ feels like it has been thrown in by a disgruntled employee, and it sounds all too cheesy and predictable for what should be a triumphant closing track. With so many strong bonus tracks, it seems foolish to finish with the disappointing ‘Rise’, which features bizarre choir unison and clapping.
Despite the disappointing ending to the standard edition of the album, Revival is overall a remarkable and invigorating addition to Gomez’s discography, and one that solidifies her as an experimental and progressive pop artist.
Listen to Revival:
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