Review Summary: This record lacks the crossover fun of Kiss and Tell, but it does its job sounding relevant and gets Selena Gomez & the Scene back on track.
Selena Gomez & the Scene may have finally hit it big time. The Hollywood cover of When the Sun Goes Down
screams that she is up for the task. Her writers have certainly been prolific, as this is Selena’s third record in just 3 years. Her debut record Kiss and Tell
was a potpourri of familiar pop styles (Electronic and dance was placed alongside guitar-pop and even some pop-punk) that Selena’s voice and personality seemed well-suited for. However, the group hit a speed bump with the rushed follow up, A Year Without Rain
. The second record set itself in the moment it was conceived, complete with a myriad of 2010 Disney music clichés and poorly executed attempts at growing Selena up. When the Sun Goes Down
gets Selena Gomez back on track, although it has decided on just one of the many roads explored on Kiss and Tell
When the Sun Goes Down
has a very clear "Who needs Guitars?" dance-pop identity. The synths are layed on thick, and beats are everywhere. However, this record is light enough to let Selena breathe. Although she lacks a big voice (read: not good live), the tone of her voice is great for recording. She doesn’t have to over sing the set she has been given here; the songs are big, loud, and infectious. Although the vast majority of the record is dance oriented, it avoids being monotonous. The lead single ‘Who Says’ and ‘We Own the Night’ hearken to songs like ‘I Promise You’ or ‘A Year Without Rain’ with their mid-tempo guitars. Surrounding these tracks, though, is Selena Gomez let loose on a pop radio dance floor.
Selena seems to have more freedom to bounce around on When the Sun Goes Down
, as tracks like ‘Bang Bang Bang’ would attest. Collaborators Britney Spears and Katy Perry lend their personal touches to a few numbers. ‘Whiplash’ is a slinky tune that channels Black Cherry
era Goldfrapp. It’s almost a mystery why Britney didn’t want to use this one for herself. The Katy Perry tune ‘That’s More Like it’ is more juvenile, and suits Selena Gomez as well as ‘As a Blonde’ did. Sprinkled in between these are several other memorable numbers such as ‘My Dilemma’, a song that is one of the few bridges from her earliest material, and ‘Hit the Lights’ which calls on club hits like ‘Everytime We Touch’ (or Rihanna’s ‘We Found Love’).
The only real misstep is the overdramatic closer ‘Middle of Nowhere’. Its soaring chorus is pushing it, and it doesn’t sound as cohesive as the other dance numbers here. While the barrage of dance songs is overbearing at times, Selena Gomez stays with them. This record lacks the crossover fun of Kiss and Tell
, but it does its job sounding relevant (You can’t write an album without mentioning your iPhone, can you?). Selena Gomez is one of the more likeable pop faces, and she does a better job playing to her strengths here than she did on A Year Without Rain
. We probably won’t have to wait long to find out if she is going to stick in the dance rut, or if there will be more variety in the future. For now, When the Sun Goes Down
goes down smooth enough.