Album: “E•MO•TION” Artist:Carly Rae Jepsen Location: Vancouver, British Columbia Date Of Release: 21 August, 2015 Genre: Pop Reviewer: Penfold For Fans Of: Taylor Swift, Madonna before she lost it, HAIM, Prince
First of all, let’s just go ahead and make it absolutely clear that this is a pop album review. You will not find a single breakdown here, Parkway. If you’re an edgy twelvie with a musical taste about as diverse as a Reclaim rally, you should just stop reading now, because there aren’t any silent “d’s” coming up. For the rest of you, you’re probably gonna be just as confused seeing that you’re reading this on IPHYB, but seriously, hear me out.
Carly Rae Jepsen, or as I’ll refer to her for the rest of this review, CROJO, first aurally penetrated us back in roughly 2012 with “Call Me Maybe”. Essentially bubblegum pop personified, she wasn’t on any musical radar belonging to someone under the age of 11. But shit, that’s all about to change with this new release. E•MO•TION took me by surprise. I’d already heard her lead single from the release, ‘I Really Like You‘, and I wasn’t sold on it. It sounded like ‘Call Me Maybe‘, it wasn’t anything new but a few things hooked my interest – namely, the huge analog synths and ’80s reverberated snare.
This is an ’80s synth pop album for 2015, and damn is it good. It kicks off with ‘Run Away With Me‘, and whilst it isn’t an amazing offering lyrically, it sets the tone perfectly of what to expect from the rest of the album. If there’s one thing I’ve missed in electro pop, it’s the driving Italian House basslines. Wait no longer, it’s here, along with the massive saxophone lead – like, it’s a synth, but it works (although I can’t help but wonder why they didn’t go for the real thing). Pop music has bastardised house music in the 2010’s and in this opening track CROJO promises us she’ll be our hero. So far, I believe it.
Next is the title track ‘Emotion‘, which is easily the stand-out of the first half of the album. This really should have been the lead single, but I can see how ‘I Really Like You‘ would have greater commercial appeal. One thing CROJO has brought to E•MO•TION is the lack of the “cutesy indie girl semi-whisper” vocal infliction we heard in ‘Call Me Maybe‘. In this album, she sings, and whilst she doesn’t have the most powerful voice in pop, it’s given us an album that seems more adult than we’re used to.
Next up is ‘I Really Like You’, her lead single and the most commercial song on the album. It’s nice and its videoclip is notable for documenting the exact moment that Tom Hanks’ career finally crashed and burned, but it’s boring compared to the rest, so let’s move on.
Track 4 sees the first downfall in the album. ‘Gimme Love‘ is boring as shit. There’s heaps of minimal and deep house influence coming through this album, but this track doesn’t nail it. Honestly with 18 tracks, I don’t see how this one made the cut. Thankfully we are treated in the very next song with the first fuckable track of the album. Fuckable as in, you could fuck someone to this song. No, not “fuck” actually, you make love to this song. Sweet, sweet CROJO facilitated love. ‘All That’ could be a Prince song; it’s slick as fuck ’80s RnB and if it doesn’t give you a half-chub, check your fucking pulse. If you’ve ever been into the likes of Brenda Russell, Patti Austin or Luther Vandross, you’ll love this song. You’ll probably also have an STD too from listening to so much sexed-up funk so get that sorted.
‘Boy Problems‘ is another surprising track from CROJO. Lyrically it’s pretty cringey, the chorus of “I think I broke up with my boyfriend, but I don’t really care” is pretty stock standard and the “Na na na na na” hook isn’t breaking any new ground but fuck me if it all doesn’t work. The song is funky and it’s the perfect segue into the best song of the entire album.
‘Making The Most Of The Night‘ is a goddamn fucking standout. It’s got all the frantic energy of a Madonna track from her heyday, you can pull comparisons to Fleetwood Mac and it’s perfectly produced. This is ’80s synth pop revival at it’s peak, and it’s a shame this track won’t be appreciated by the masses in the same way ‘I Really Like You‘ will because it deserves to be. If you only listen to one pop song this year, you edgy deathlord, make it this one.
The next three songs are obvious fillers only really notable for using Buzzfeed as lyrical content. Actually “Buzzed Buzzard” was pretty clever, I’ll give her that. Skip ‘Your Type‘, ‘Let’s Get Lost‘ and ‘LA Hallucinations‘ unless you’re really keen.
‘Warm Blood‘ will be the most polarising track of the entire album. It’s like they wanted Disclosure to produce a track for her, but couldn’t convince them to work with another pop artist (and frankly after dealing with the bullshit that must come with working with Azealia Banks, can you blame them?). This is a deep house offering that doesn’t work, the dropped vocals in the 2nd half of the chorus is just weird and it’s all over the shop. Go listen to some JOY or Airling instead if you’re really keen on this vibe.
‘When I Needed You‘ is an ’80s masterpiece, and nearly as satisfying as jumping into your decade-old Vice City save file and mowing down a stack of prostitutes with a chainsaw along the sunny Ocean Beach strip. This is a bright neon ’80s tune, and honestly should really come with a bump of Sydney coke. Then we have ‘Black Heart‘ and eh … I’m not sold. It’s like she’s trying to have a duet with herself. Go listen to ‘Popular‘ by The Veronicas instead.
Finally, at the pointy end of the album, we’re given a super solid ’80s house offering in ‘I Didn’t Just Come Here To Dance‘. If you’re not a fan of house music, you won’t dig it but if you love you some old school Calvin Harris circa ‘I Created Disco‘ vibe, you’ll appreciate this. The only flaw is that it’s too short – it should have been at least three minutes longer … Maybe this means another single release?
Closing the album is ‘Favourite Colour‘ which brings us back to where it all started. Big, pretty synths, vocoded vocals, layers upon layers and a voice we never knew she had.
E•MO•TION sees CROJO cut her hair short, dump her boyfriend, throw out her wardrobe, and grow into the girl she always wanted to be. She’s had the massive pop hit, now she’s showing us what she’s always wanted to do. You can draw all the comparisons with Taylor Swifts impeccable ‘1989‘, and I’m not about to suggest CROJO has topped Swifty here, but she’s hungrier than ever and fuck, it’s more coherent as an album.
Set your Spotify to private, pop in those headphones, and waste an hour in an ’80s dream. You will not be disappointed.