Review Summary: This record lacks the crossover fun of Kiss and Tell, but it does its job sounding relevant and gets Selena Gomez back on track.Selena Gomez
may have finally hit it big time. The so-Hollywood-maybe-it's-ironic cover of When the Sun Goes Down
screams that she is up for the task. Her writers have been prolific; this is Selena’s third record in 3 years. Her debut 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 was well-suited for. The group hit a speed bump with the rushed follow up, A Year Without Rain
will make a nice time capsule for 2010 Disney music clichés, but offers little else. When the Sun Goes Down
does a lot to right the ship, honing in on the electronic and dance styles explored on Kiss and Tell
and updating them for 2011.
When the Sun Goes Down
has a clear mainstream oriented dance-pop identity with thick synths and familiar beats, but is light enough to let Selena breathe. Selena lacks a commanding voice, but her tone and personality has been consistently good for recording. She doesn’t have to over sing the set she has been given here; the songs are big, loud, and infectious. 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, but the remainder of the tracks let loose on the dance floor.
Selena sounds more comfortable on When the Sun Goes Down
; sporting some all-in-good-fun attitude to the bubbly kiss-off ‘Bang Bang Bang’. In addition, collaborators Britney Spears and Katy Perry add personal touches to a pair of highlights. ‘Whiplash’ is a slinky tune that channels Black Cherry
. It’s a mystery why Britney didn’t use this one for herself. The Perry tune ‘That’s More Like it’ is a juvenile romp, and suits Selena as well as ‘As a Blonde’ did. Sprinkled in between these are other memorable numbers such as ‘My Dilemma’, a song that bridges to her earliest material, and ‘Hit the Lights’ which calls on club hits like Rihanna’s ‘We Found Love’.
The only real misstep is the over-dramatic closer ‘Middle of Nowhere’ - its insistent chorus feels out of place. While this record lacks the crossover fun of Kiss and Tell
, it is a relevant dance pop record that features enjoyable songs and a light hearted attitude. Selena Gomez is a likeable pop face, 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.