Receiving the gift of eight more songs that fit perfectly alongside E•MO•TION genuinely felt like an equivalent to my nerdy 12-year-old self receiving an additional chapter of each of the Harry Potter novels. Pure elation. The precise and ‘80s-influenced synths and snappy snares under Carly flirting out unapologetic lines like, “Romance is fine, pour me some wine/Tell me it’s just for the fun of it” felt just as intoxicating as the entirety of the original E•MO•TION. None of Side B felt like leftovers that weren’t good enough to make the album, but rather a delicious gift for Jepsen’s following to scream out of a car window in the final waning days of summer.
Since spending a good portion of the last year listening to E•MO•TION, I’ve been perplexed over what’s so entrancing about Carly Rae Jepsen, an artist who could seem like just another pop singer on the surface. Besides just being a brilliantly-produced, careful cocktail of the pop sounds proven to be audible crack to so many listeners, the catharsis of wilding out to Jepsen lies in her simplicity, a core impulse her songs seem to strike. Although the song’s referring to a romance between person and person, not the romance between person and Carly’s music, “Body Language” is illustrative of her appeal: “I just think we’re overthinking it/Body language will do the trick.” That’s it. If you’re listening to Carly Rae and you don’t feel as every hair follicle on your body is submerged in a pink cotton candy electric current, you’re overthinking it.
She’s the queen of taking complex emotions and compressing them into straight-up sounds that radiate carnally in the base of your being and make you feel awake. How else could she turn a mundane activity like going to the store into jam about the crushing weight of saying goodbye that also kind of makes you want do a kickline down the cereal aisle?
In a lot of ways, E•MO•TION is a sort of a list of allowances, songs that grant specific permission to feel and do things that are often labeled shameful: going out with the intention of hooking up, telling your friend to stfu about that dumb boy, not feeling sorry when you dump said dumb boy, driving past your crush’s house late at night, demanding love, having fast feelings for someone, having emotions in general, listening to bubblegum pop. Thank god Side B came to extend the list of things we don’t need to feel guilty about to include pulling an irish exit on a relationship in “Store,” one night stands in “The One,” pining over someone you can’t have in “Fever,” crying in “Cry” and realizing you listened to E•MO•TION nearly every day for 365 days straight.
As a floundering twenty-year-old in a constant state angst, every day of the past year seemed to prove to me that the world was the opposite of simple, the opposite of easy. But at least solace and youthful simplicity could be easily returned to by nakedly bellowing “BOY PROBLEMS, WHO’S GOT EM?!?” into a hairbrush. And with the arrival of 28 more mins of E•MO•TION-level euphoria? Aside from my lyrics of choice switching to “IF YOU WANT TO, YOU CAN STAY THE NIGHT” on occasion, it looks like that isn’t going to change over the next year.
Amileah Sutliff is a New York-based writer, editor and creative producer and an editor of the book The Best Record Stores in the United States.
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