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Selena Gomez - Rare (Album Review)

Wednesday, 15 January 2020 Written by Milly McMahon

In our era of braggadocio, unfettered egos and online oversharing, Selena Gomez's third solo album is stripped back, vulnerable and fittingly named ‘Rare’. A little over four years after the release of her previous full length ‘Revival’, a more sophisticated 2.0 version of Gomez steps forward, grown and self-assured. 

With her vocals popping from the speakers with flawless clarity and notable guest slots from rappers Kid Cudi and 6lack, the Disney graduate co-wrote the entirety of the album with pop heavyweights including long-time foils Justin Tranter and Julia Michaels.

Although the majority of the music is charged with ragged emotions and difficult memories, Gomez’s delivery is cool, calm and calculated.

Where previous albums have seen her go after big money ballads and hyper-sexualised bangers, the commercialisation of her sound has been quietly toned down on ‘Rare’. 

At the tail end of the record, Cut You Off is a powerful moment, playing out like an insecure monologue reflecting on a troubled relationship. Her vibe here is drama-free, and Gomez speaks from a place of enlightened resignation.

The opening title track and Look At Her Now, though, are the stand outs in a therapeutic body of work. The beats are strong, the choruses catchy and Gomez’s million dollar voice are married with a slick aesthetic. Growing up alongside her audience, she has become a role model who’s able to discuss mental health issues, living with a long-term illness, relationship trauma and resilience with first hand experience.

Dance Again is another stroke of brilliance. Marrying the pop vibe of her earlier years with her current, mature approach, this is a proper earworm of a track. “Happiness ain't something you sit back and wait for,” she sings.  There are the raw materials here to suggest that a move towards something a little less produced and more acoustic in the future could enhance the integrity of Gomez’s music to a place of Lana Del Rey-like originality. But for now, ‘Rare’ is a great new beginning.

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