It was absolutely inevitable that I’d buy this album: the very first single, the hyperenergetic “I Really Like You,” would have knocked my socks off, had I had socks on at the time, and the second, the evocative “Run Away With Me,” was enough to get me to pony up for the iTunes Store preorder. Besides, Carly has a certain, um, visual appeal. (Who gave her legs like that? Said she could keep them?) Even if E-MO-TION were more of the same writ five times over, I knew I had to have it, preferably in Apple’s proffered Deluxe Edition with three bonus tracks.
It’s not more of the same, except in the broadest of senses: the worldview here is consistently that of a young woman with stars in her eyes and hearts and flowers on her mind. (By no coincidence, this is very much my own mindset: my inner nine-year-old girl could easily grow up to be someone like this.) It doesn’t at all hurt that Jepsen sounds about ten years younger than the 29 she is. And while there are no fewer than twenty-two producers listed here, normally a sure ticket to Disasterville, somehow E-MO-TION sounds like it was recorded in a couple of marathon sessions over a weekend or two, instead of in dozens of places over a year and a half. As Taylor Swift did with 1989, Jepsen has adopted a 1980s pop sensibility for the duration; while Swift is the sharper lyricist, Jepsen crafts better melodies, perhaps more important to that Eighties vibe. And even the two songs into which Jepsen presumably had the least input — “Making the Most of the Night,” a collaboration with Sia, and “LA Hallucinations,” written with Jepsen’s Vancouver neighbor Zachary Gray of the Zolas, still sound like pure Carly Rae. (“Boy Problems” — and isn’t that the purest girl-group title you ever heard? — brings in both Sia and her producer Greg Kurstin, neither of whom overwhelm the proceedings.)
And I must give some space here to Billboard’s Jason Lipshutz, who notices a phenomenon in the musical press:
E-MO-TION, led by the singles “I Really Like You” and “Run Away With Me,” is so good that many are already deeming it the Pop Album of the Year, and because none of its tracks have remotely taken off at Top 40 radio (which would lead one to believe that the album is not going to be a massive seller upon its release), those same people are anointing CRJ the Underrated Pop Artist of The Moment.
Top 40 radio, of course, lacks video. “Run Away With Me,” which did even not register on Billboard’s Hot 100, has over five million YouTube views. Remember what I said about visual appeal? And while I’m not in a position to judge whether Carly Rae Jepsen is indeed underrated, I’ll happily deem this the Pop Album of the Year, at least for the first two-thirds of the year.