Single Review: Carly Rae Jepson - No Drug Like Me

2015’s stunning Emotion was one of the best pop albums of the decade. It was a perfect mix of breathless hooks, simple narratives and underhand bitterness, lifting to something of cult status amongst fans. Since then, Carly Rae Jepson has kept us fans waiting; teasing us with 2017’s Cut to the Feeling and 2018’s Party For One… she’s been playing a long game. 

No Drug Like Me, her newest single (along with the slightly inferior Now That I Found You,) is the latest offering in a quest to slowly quench a thirst that has been suffered for nearly four years. In that quest however, No Drug Like Mesucceeds. The song is Jepson’s best since the euphoria-trip of Cut to the Feeling yet it opts for the opposite end of the emotional spectrum.

Whereas that song burst forth with jubilant force, No Drug seeps and slides along, dripping into your ear with a relish that’s rarely heard on her songs. The way Jepson’s voice stutters and tries to catch up with itself in the chorus just emphasises the song’s main sentiment: a simple one, reflected in the title, but an important one nevertheless. The hallmarks of her best songs are all here, the monumental synth break in the chorus and the shimmering flickers of a synth line in the verses, but it’s all the more bewitching because of it. The hushed refrains of “there’s a little ghost of us” in the verse certainly help. For that moment, it’s difficult to deny Jepson’s words. I agree that there is no drug like [her]. 

You can read as much or as little as you want into the song and get equal pay out at the end.

– Kieran Baddeley

But perhaps the song’s slick and dark veneer is exactly that, a ‘veneer’ or a façade. Jepson said of the song: “‘No Drug Like Me’… is a promise I made to love in general. That when the good stuff lands my way, I’ll always try to be vulnerable and brave and show all of myself.” Sure enough, you listen to the song again with this in mind and it takes on new meaning and gravity. No longer an ode to the ecstasy of intoxication, more a paean to open love and self-expression. You can read as much or as little as you want into the song and get equal pay out at the end. Many of Jepson’s songs play out this way – perfect at face value and even better beneath that. 

Jepson’s songs never break new ground, something I stressed in my review of Emotion, but instead hone a craft that Jepson has been perfecting since year oneSome are perturbed to hear of my love for Carly Rae Jepson, but there’s nothing quite like the joy of hearing a pop song done well (it’s a guilty pleasure I’m not very guilty about.) No Drug Like Me continues in this vein and it’s even better for precisely this reason. We can only hope the long-awaited sequel to that mini-masterpiece from 2015 is as good as this song is.