Carly Rae Jepsen



by Christopher Y. USER (48 Reviews)
July 26th, 2019 | 6 replies

Release Date: 2015 | Tracklist

Review Summary: An 80s pop gem with a kitschy yet dazzling, modern blast of sonic firework.

Modern Times Series : (Part 3)

(Note: This review only inspects the normal version of the album, which means I will not review bonus tracks from the deluxe version of this record and the then-unreleased B-sides.)

I usually dislike one-hit wonders, as I often felt these people are typical record label’s manufactured products in order to spark consumer’s desire to purchase the music under their label, and then forsake them once the public interest on these “artists” waned or the musicians wanted to break free their molded image. Carly Rae Jepsen perhaps fell into this “one-hit wonder” box in the public eyes, as she struggled to create a major hit since the earworm “Call Me Maybe” and “Good Time”, which is reminiscent of Swedish pop star Robyn. In the eyes of some more devoted fans and more expansive listeners, however, Jepsen’s legacy is beyond her juggernaut hits, as her 2015 album E MO TION proved that she is more than your typical pop star who only creates one mega-hit, with her penchant for 80s pop music instead of continuing the 90s teen-pop of Kiss, it is one charming record that since solidifying her as a legitimate pop artist who is willing to create her own path and an indie darling that many of her lesser contemporaries could not achieve.

The effervescent opener “Run Away With Me” perhaps set the tone of this record: Began with a striking saxophone and 80s-retro synths, Jepsen then whispers to her long-distance lover that they spend their together at its earnest, as they hoped to enjoy the taste of reckless love{“This is the part/You gotta say all that you're feeling, feeling”) and exuberance(“Up in the clouds/High as a kite over the city, city”), creating a song that captures the magic of two people embracing the moments of joy together. The icing on the cake of this song, however, is the explosive chorus, as the song kickstarted the part with the whiplashing drums, and being driven by the pulsating synth bass, the thumping drums, the swirling sax, and the ecstatic, layered vocals, sculpting a tune that is purely unforgettable. In addition to the perfect opener, Jepsen also created several indelible moments as well. Whether is she singing a reflecting tune that is reminiscent of the late Prince(“All That”), a nocturnal beauty that portrays a romantic crush(“Warm Blood”), poppy yet melancholic laments about unrequited love(“My Type”) or the change brought by one’s stardom (“LA Hallucinations”), fever dream-swarmed tunes about the aftermath of a heartbreak (the title track and “Gimme Love”), blood-pumping songs about the speeding lust (“Making The Most Of The Night”), or stunning early Madonna songs that not even the Queen of Pop herself sang at all(“Boy Problems”, “Let’s Get Lost” and “When I Needed You”), Jepsen proved that she could utilize various producers to create a sonic spectrum within the album. With all the flavors that could be encountered in a romantic relationship packed into one album, Jepsen finally showcased her capability of being a multifaceted pop artist, with her successfully broke her barrier set by her past mega-hits.

On the flip side, though, the album is plagued by its rather shallow lyrics, which unfortunately degrades the quality of the album. The rather annoying lead single “I Really Like You” is perhaps where Jepsen recycled the saccharine pop of “Call Me Maybe”, as she repeated the “really” word for 67(!) times, and the quality does not help much with a paper-thin lyrics, which makes some wonder did she wrote this song in a hurry. This song is not the only one that has questionable quality, whether was it the awkwardly sexual lyrics (“Making The Most of The Night”), the overtly fanatical ones (“When I Needed You”), the rather cliched ones(“Let’s Get Lost”), or simply redundant(“Gimme Love”). What’s more, this album’s scope seems to be limited within a romantic relationship, which makes one wonder whether Jepsen and her co-writers lacked inspiration or it is simply their intention to allow them to make space for painting a more multi-faced side of a romance. Not to mention, the strong use of vocal modification within this album, which literally strips the natural sound within this album. Whatever it is, the rather narrow scope, shallow lyrics, and the artificial vocals is nonetheless a double-edged blade towards the quality of this record.

Despite all the ecstatic highs and disappointing lows in this album, both in terms of its tone and quality, and its rather narrow scope, E MO TION still defines Jepsen herself more than a manufactured pop product, as she traded her bubblegum pop melodies in Kiss with 80s-oriented pop, simultaneously mature as an artist and preserve the catchiness in the process, exhibiting her willingness to explore beyond her comfort zone. To be honest, though, it is a shame that this record is undersold, as it charted lower than Kiss and fell below the Top Ten of the Billboard 200, since it captures Jepsen’s talent as a musician more than its less impressive predecessor, perhaps this could be caused by Taylor Swift’s similarly sounded juggernaut hit 1989(not surprising when considering both albums shared the contributions of the same producers). Nevertheless, E MO TION is the album where Jepsen finally creates a golden hour that is both multifaceted and enchanting, as she created a formula where she balanced both pop sensibility and her growing maturity that not even her more famous peers could not create, and the follow-up Dedicated only further magnifies such flavor. Some may argue that Jepsen did not mature as many would believe, evident in the kitschy lyrics. However, the kitsch somehow became one of her sonic signatures, as it enhances the approachability of this album, which sets her apart from the majority of the pop music, further setting her as a talent to be reckoned with.

Personal Rating: 3.95

Personal Favourite:
Run Away With Me
Boy Problems
My Type
LA Hallucinations
Warm Blood

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Jacquibim STAFF (4)
Unabashedly sweet, but also savoury enough to be more than just a guilty pleasure....

Brendan Schroer (4.5)

Dashnavar (4)
“EMOTION” is a full-blown 80’s pastiche that proves Jepsen’s masterful ability to channel he...

Dmax28 (4)
Carly's new album has a more mature sound by going soul/R&B and ditching the more obtrusive synth el...

Comments:Add a Comment 
July 26th 2019


Album Rating: 4.0

Hi guys, this is the third installment of my Modern Times Series. This is perhaps my first review in months to review a straight-up pop album. Enjoy.

As always, any constructive criticism is welcomed.

July 26th 2019


Album Rating: 4.0

Love this album. Good review. Although the lyrics are generally shallow, this is pop music so that's the norm with even the best of the best. They don't bother me that much although they are the worst part of the album at times.

July 26th 2019


Album Rating: 4.0

@StrikeOfTheBeast: Thanks, man. Perhaps the fact that I am accustomed to more lyrical-oriented genres, such as indie-rock, heavy metal, singer/songwriter, etc, perhaps that's why I can be stingy about the lyrics. The sound of this album, though, is pretty much top-notch.

Anyway, given to your user name, avatar and the album that you are digging, may I ask what is your favorite genre? I am surprised to see a heavy metal fan to take a look and give a good score to a pop album.

July 26th 2019


Album Rating: 4.0

Agreed fagacademy XD

I like more pop than my pie chart implies (it's basically death and thrash), but it's more like some songs here and there from a lot of pop artists.

July 27th 2019


Album Rating: 5.0

wtf making the most of the night is top 3 she's ever written

August 21st 2019


Album Rating: 4.5

interesting you mentioned 'awkwardly sexual' lyrics as a reason you didnt love making the most of the night. i've always read that song as being about a really strong friendship rather than anything romantic or sexual

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