Album Review: Carly Rae Jepson - Emotion

Pop music, in recent years, has become slightly disillusioned to the masses. A whole article could be taken up explaining how streaming and other technological advances have led to the increase of talentless artists creeping into the charts and the consciousness of the masses. While this may hold some truth, it’s an extremely cynical world view. In many ways, pop music is better now than it ever has been. It’s become such a broad term that myriad artists and genres fall into its scope. Naysayers may argue that truly original and worthwhile pop music is dead. 2015’s Emotion is an album that refutes this claim.

Emotion is an almost flawless album in that it does nothing particularly ground-breaking. No track will completely blow you away or challenge you to question just what pop music can be. No track will change your life. But then again, the album has no desire to do so. Emotion isn’t a grand concept or idea, it exists simply to be a pop album. However, it’s exactly this that makes it so good.

The twelve songs on the album drip with the touch marks of 80’s production that made music back then so alluring. Synths shimmer and sparkle and overtly simple drum beats provide a strong basis for these accessories. The bubbles of synth that break up the chorus to the title track, are so gleefully familiar, that you welcome them with as much awe the first time, as the tenth time you hear them. These are songs you’ve heard a million times before but you can’t put your finger on when, or where, you heard them. You’re swept into a world of nostalgia from the beginning: whether it’s the reverb-laden horns that usher in the album on Run Away With Me or the wonderful slap-bass that’s peppered through All That. The album also makes an extremely positive use of space. Tracks like All That and the title track are held up by a weightlessness in the verses that gives way in the chorus. As a result, Emotion is an extraordinarily palatable album, it very rarely challenges you musically. Instead you are caught up in the fantasy of the music.

..The album comes to be a masterpiece of modern pop and worth a lot more than its naysayers make out.
– Kieran Baddeley

You may have noticed I’ve not mentioned Carly herself yet. This is purely of her own devising. Jepson feels just as lost and in awe of the music as the listener does. As a narrator, she experiences the musical landscapes and romanticism of the tracks just like her audience. As a lyricist, she’s criminally underrated; she cuts past innuendos and complicated feelings and instead describes exactly how she feels; how she feels in the moment. Its immediate, exactly how proper pop music should be. Last year, she released Cut To The Feeling, one of her best singles, incisively describing her approach. She wastes no time in outlining the song’s principle motive. It’s this bluntness that prevents tracks like I Really Like You and Gimme Love from becoming tedious and overwrought.

This directness is contrasted by a selection of songs that need closer inspection to understand. The sugar rush of L.A. Hallucination is offset by a layer of melancholia. The charms of the city cannot fill the “little black hole” Jepson is left with, only a lover can shake her from the indoctrination of a consumer-driven city. Similarly, Boy Problems, the album’s best track, tackles complexity. The melody is insatiable, tripping over itself as it delves into bridge after bridge, unsure of what the actual chorus is. Its glorious and endlessly rewarding, amplified by its syncopated hand claps and jubilant drum patterns. Jepson however is once again without solace, she seems acquainted with loss in the refrain: “I think I broke up with my boyfriend today and I don’t really care” only to fall back on herself, lamenting “What’s worse, losing a lover or losing a best friend?” It’s a condensation of teenage daydreams- second thoughts and mixed emotions, faint hope and strong renewal.

Twelve tracks. A cauldron of windswept romance and hostile break-ups. 45 minutes. Then it’s over. It’s how a pop album should play out. Nothing over-complicated or difficult, just an expertly crafted collection of songs that address love in its simplest illustration. The only difficult thing about the album is the indecipherable punctuation of the title. Past this however, the album comes to be a masterpiece of modern pop and worth a lot more than its naysayers make out.