Carly Rae Jepsen’s ‘Emotion: Side B’: Review

Jon Reyes | August 28, 2016 8:58 am
Being a fan of Carly Rae Jepsen’s Emotion sometimes felt like being Gretchen in Mean Girls, when Regina George yelled at her, “Stop trying to make ‘fetch’ happen!” Commercially, the album bombed. Critically, it was adored. Fans? Forget about it. Carly made it easy for them to carry the album’s torch. It really was that good.

The sequel, Emotion: Side B (released ), clocks in at 28 minutes and it’s completely jam-packed with euphoria. The whole thing kicks off with “First Time” which finds Carly declaring, “I could meet you in the middle, we won’t fight.” It’s what every person who has too big a heart for a one-night stand says to get laid. She then switches roles on “The One” and tells a friend with benefits that it’s just not going to go past that one night. It’s all tied up neatly in happiness.

Producers Kyle Shearer, TMS, Nick Ruth and Ryan Stewart, who weren’t included on the LP or deluxe editions of Emotion, join the era with in-your-face ’80s production on pulsating tracks like “The One” and “Body Language.” We actually get a reminder of what Carly set out to do to begin with: make a cohesive collection using retro pop sounds. It’s a feat that many artists strive for, but Carly somehow made the sonics match the content, as both side A and side B are lyrically sound.

Disheartening moments are inserted into the “dance it out alone” narrative. “Cry,” for example, is all about an overly stoic object of affection whose aversion to sentiment drives her to tears. But even then you’re imagining Billy-Elliot-on-a-roof dancing, not someone Snapchatting with mascara running down the face.

It’s interesting that Carly Rae would celebrate an album that wasn’t embraced by a bigger audience with this collection of leftovers. Usually, pop stars want to forget their less-than-successful eras swiftly — think Hard Candy or Artpop. The difference here is that there wasn’t a modicum of ego on these songs. They were conjured by employing songwriting and a theme. As lush as Emotion: Side B sounds, it’s honest. And it works.

Score: 4.5/5

Jon Reyes

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