General consensus dictates that Carly Rae Jepsen was going to be a one-hit wonder, using Swift-comparisons and the juggernaut that was ‘Call Me Maybe’ to warrant a second album. The fact that E-MOT-ION is in fact Jepsen’s third album, and that Kiss had more than that one good song and was actually packed end-to-end with great tunes that mostly went unnoticed and unappreciated, doesn’t seem to matter. Public opinion and the here and now are all that really matters, so it’s probably a good thing that Jepsen has re-arrived with guns blazing.
The Swift comparisons are there and still all too easy to make; big-time producers, interesting alt/indie writers, ’80s influences aplenty and rarely leaving the topic of relationships. However, the biggest digression is whereas Swift seems to enter relationships with the sole intention of writing a great song about the eventual break-up, Jepsen loves the early, intense, intoxicating stages of falling for someone else.
We’re six songs in before she has a bad thing to say about the men in her life, and by then we’ve already ticked off the blockbuster, candy-floss singles ‘I Really Like You’ and ‘Run Away With Me’. Greg Kurstin and Sia Furler provide the innocuous addiction of ‘Boy Problems’, destined to be sung by groups of tweenagers discussing their first crushes, while Ariel Rechtshaid and Dev Hynes help bring out Jepsen’s inner mid-‘90s Janet Jackson on the album’s only true slow-jam ‘All That’.
The second half of the album is where the songs get less single-conscious, but also far more interesting. ‘Your Type’ begins with a sinister synth right out off Drive, before exploding into a huge, Berlin-style chorus, and ‘Let’s Get Lost’ kicks off with a jittery production that evolves into a saxophone-infused West Coast Cooler advert soundtrack. Things continue to get even more outré on ‘L.A. Hallucinations’ as Jepsen yells about getting wasted – “There’s a little black hole in my golden cup/So you pour and I’ll say stop” – or the Tegan & Sara-esque ‘Warm Blood’ as she palpably yearns over Vampire Weekend’s Rostam Batmanglij’s icy, pitched production.
If there is a problem with E-MOT-ION, it’s that the only way to describe Jepsen is by comparison. On top of Taylor, Janet, Berlin and Tegan & Sara, there’s also closing track ‘When I Needed You’ which sounds like it was originally intended for Charli XCX, while the pounding beat behind ‘Gimmie Love’ would seem to be more suited to the likes of Demi Lovato or Selena Gomez. Will we ever get to the day where we hear a song and think “Wow, that sounds like a Carly Rae Jepsen song!” Maybe, but today isn’t that day. For now, we can say that we really, really, really, really, really, really like you, but we’re not sure that it’s not because you remind us of someone else we actually love.