Compact Review: Carly Rae Jepsen’s E•MO•TION

Carly Rae Jepsen – E•MO•TION
Released: August 21, 2015
Rating: 77/100


Carly Rae Jepsen is an unlikely dark horse in the pop diva power rankings. She has the song of 2012 (“Call Me Maybe”) but little else on her resume. It’s a great song and I can’t wait to dance to it at every wedding I attended for as long as I live but I’ve also never been more sure about an artists status as One Hit Wonder. In a saturated pop marketplace, Carly Rae Jepsen hasn’t done much to stand out in the ever expanding crowd of rising pop princesses. Her third LP, E•MO•TION wasn’t even on my docket until the guys on Do You Like Prince Movies? recommended and even then I was skeptical.

E•MO•TION is an unsuspecting little slice of pop music. It’s not Miley Cyrus & Her Dead Petz surprising but what is? Following her world beating “Call Me Maybe”, Jepsen could have gone in a million of different directions to recreate the success of that goliath single. I would have expected some manufactured identity or schtick, but Jepsen seems entirely disinterested in trite distractions. She never tries too hard to be hip and the lack of overpowering dubstep bass or convenient rap features gives E•MO•TION a remarkably timeless feel. Each of the 12 songs on this album could have been a chart topping pop single in any year of the past several decades and that is the real power of E•MO•TION.

Most pure pop will feature the star at the center of the arrangements but on E•MO•TION, Carly Rae Jepsen leads the sound without overpowering it. Jepsen’s voice is mixed to sound more like she is the band’s lead singer rather than a marquee solo pop star and in the space between the vocals, the 80s leaning production shines. Amid the synthesizers and atmospherics, live guitars, bass and saxophone sounds give the album a charmingly human feel. Why don’t more pop songs have sax solos? It’s like there is this secret ingredient that everybody forgot about but thankfully Carly Rae Jepsen knows what’s up.

E•MO•TION is an album for pop purists. I firmly believe that pop should be light but filling. I want infectiously breezy tracks about reckless infatuation (“Run Away With Me”), break-ups (“Boy Problems”) and aimlessly driving around town (“Let’s Get Lost”). I want euphoric anthems (“When I Needed You”) and crushing ballads (“All That”). E•MO•TION has it all. It’s a refreshing break from the lab-pop artists deliberately trying to force the song of the summer and the syrupy drug addled R&B. There is something defiantly independent about Carly Rae Jepsen’s E•MO•TION. While her album flies parallel to the zeitgiest, she stands distinctly apart from the flock of electro-pop princesses. I’m officially revoking Carly Rae Jepsen’s status as a One Hit Wonder. She’s created something impossible in the summer of 2015: a warm blooded pop album without compromise. Long live pop music.

Top Tracks: “When I Needed You”, “All That”, “Run Away With Me”

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