“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?” This is the statement that begins the opening title track to Selena Gomez’s fourth studio album, Revival. Serving as a literal revival for the starlet, the record is meant to be a goodbye to her once pristine and clean Disney image, welcoming a far more adult sound and image — and she delivers.
Just like Christina Aguilera’s Stripped or Miley Cyrus’ Bangerz of times past, Revival is meant to mark a shift in Gomez’s career. After leaving Hollywood Records, which was the label that allowed to her release music all throughout her time at Disney, the songstress has noticeably begun to revamp her image. By dropping the girl-next-door charm seen in the past and adding sensuality into the mix, Revival displays a far more grown and mature Gomez. Songs such as the reggae-infused “Rise” or the introspective “Kill Em with Kindness” show sophistication and a mentality not previously seen in her music.
Revival also sees the 23-year-old touch upon personal subjects, such as her breakup with fellow former teen idol, Justin Bieber. The emotional “Camouflage” focuses on the reunion with this lost love, while the Charli XCX-esque “Sober” tells the tale of a love fueled by intoxication. Subjects like this are far more advanced than when Gomez sang about loving someone like a love song, but this growth is expected as it comes with age (Gomez’s 2011 release “Love You Like a Love Song” is still one of the best pop songs to ever be created and I’ll stand by that).
While the album does show introspection and confidence, with album highlights like “Hands to Myself,” the heartfelt “Nobody,” and the leading single “Good For You” displaying a self-assurance not previously heard from Gomez, Revival does have its missteps. Songs such as “Body Heat” and “Survivors” almost feel as if they didn’t even happen after listening to the album, though her amount of filler has drastically reduced from 2013’s Stars Dance, which contained about four singles and nine forgettable songs that seemed as if they were written just to make up an album.
Since I was curious as to how Gomez would evolve compared to her Disney Channel peers, such as Demi Lovato or Miley Cyrus, I was ready to be highly critical and disapprove of everything she would release. However, after listening to Revival, it seems her goal was to make an album that is leagues above her previous efforts. In this way, she’s successful. It’s obvious that Gomez had clear intentions regarding her sound, image, and persona. For her, simplicity is key. All she truly needs to make a good song on Revival is herself and the rhythm. A great choice on her part.
4 out of 5 stars
— Jake Johnson, Music Blogger