It’s been nearly 3 years since we’ve heard from Carly Rae Jepsen, the girl who once took the world by storm with just one simple song — the 2012 monster hit “Call Me Maybe.” While admittedly not one of the most exciting musicians out there, Jepsen has always seemed eager to shake the title of being the “Call Me Maybe girl” and become something more. With her new album — Emotion (stylized E•MO•TION for extra emphasis) — she has managed to release what is likely the best pop album of the year.
Emotion is the album that Taylor Swift wanted to make with her hit 2014 album 1989. Compared to Swift’s 1989, Emotion sees the former “Canadian Idol” finalist taking on a more authentic and less calculated 80s sound and aesthetic. The album kicks off with one of the best pop songs this year, the dreamy, saxophone-driven “Run Away With Me.” The song is an emotional (no pun intended), nostalgia-inducing banger that sees Jepsen begging her lover to escape with her. The song is already unlike everything previously expected from Jepsen. It’s a mature, heartfelt, undoubtedly great song. As the album progresses, Jepsen only builds her credibility as a serious pop starlet. With songs such as the straight-outta-the-80s title track “Emotion” and “Your Type,” portraying the singer as a scorned lover who would much rather throw on a leather jacket than mourn the loss of a relationship.
The album also sees singer-songwriter Jepsen collaborating with many other notable musicians. Australian singer/songwriter Sia co-writes two personal favorites of the album that highlight a more funk-infused sound, “Boy Problems” and “Making the Most of the Night.” In these, Jepsen has never seemed more excited to be singing. Jepsen also worked with indie rock band Vampire Weekend’s Rotsam Batmanglij on the eclectic, yet surprisingly addicting “Warm Blood.” Both of these artists come from much higher quality soundscapes than Jepsen’s previous guest producers like Owl City and Justin Bieber, who were seen on her 2012 effort Kiss (not to discredit them entirely as both artists do have some good work.)
While I have never been too keen on Carly Rae Jepsen or her earlier music, I can’t deny that Emotion is, by far, my favorite album that has been released so far this year. I personally find it hard to pinpoint a song that I could label as “filler” on the standard twelve-track edition of the album (there are multiple editions of the album with bonus tracks). The record is one of those in which every song packs a punch, and for this album specifically, each song manages to encapsulate a different sound from the 80s, a decade that was a heavy influence on the sound for the album.
Songs such as album highlight “All That,” a dazzling, heartfelt ballad, display this direct inspiration from the decade that brought us R&B-infused pop ballads. Jepsen sounds honest, proclaiming to her lover that she “will be there, [she] will be your friend” over a whirling synthesizer and grooving slap bass line.
It is tracks like this that make Emotion one of the best pop albums released in recent years. The greatest thing about this album is how confident Jepsen sounds. While never a critic’s darling before, the 29-year-old demands respect and appreciation with this record, showcasing new heights with its cohesiveness. Whether she’s exchanging numbers in hopes for you to call her (maybe), or perhaps begging you to run away with her, the message is clear: pay attention to her, and you won’t regret it.
5 out of 5 stars
— Jake Johnson, Music Blogger