Friday, September 2, 2016

E•MO•TION: Side B | Carly Rae Jepsen

Carly Rae Jepsen had quite the year last year, yes? I would say so.

For those of you with a bad memory, let's recap: Jeppo dropped "I Really Like You," a melodically-solid pop bit that declared her love for you seven times over. She then followed that up with "All That," an unusually somber little ditty produced by Dev Hynes, and "Run Away with Me," arguably the best pop song and saxophone-blaring Vine meme accompaniment of 2015. But best of all, she gave us E•MO•TION, her second studio album that set the newest gold standard for warm, glowing, '80s-influenced, teen pop for an audience a bit older and more diverse than expected. (I'd like to mention she blessed Japan with it months before the rest of us, by the way. Not because I'm still a little bitter, but because it's a necessary digression.)

Phew. Catch that all? Good.

So CRJ's next plan of action? Let 2015's fun carry on over to 2016 with something we pop fans wish most artists would do: a B-sides collection of tracks that didn't make the first cut. It's as if she read my open letter addressed to her earlier this year, which all but demanded access to some of the forfeited tracks from the E•MO•TION sessions.

Given the quality of their parent album, these B-sides were guaranteed to be merely good at the very worst, so it's no surprise that most of them are worth a listen... or ten. Despite being produced by a few producers who didn't touch the original album, the eight tracks here are so successful because they don't throw away what made E•MO•TION so grand: instrumentation calculated for pop perfection that dances around some infectious melodies.

Moreover, they don't feel like microwaved leftovers. In fact, this material is arguably more fine-tuned with what radio-chasing pop girls are passing as album material. Perhaps that's the difference between them and albums artist Carly Rae Jepsen, though: Side B solidifies her focus on quality over repeated radio success. Otherwise, she would have abandoned the less-than-commercially-successful era altogether and went away to work on another track with potential to land the assertive leap onto airwaves that "I Really Like You" was meant to make.

Unsurprisingly, Colin Jepsen's sister doesn't stray far from her thematic template: she still flirts with adult themes (love, heartbreak, and *gasp* two-timing on a man) via innocent lyrics with implied side-eyed glances. And of course, she wouldn't abandoned her favorite musical tactic, given its success in the past: the power of repetition in melodically superior hooks. Granted, when these choruses hit, they don't slap listeners quite hard enough to leave a five-finger hand-print across the face like hooks from the original album did, but most come close enough  and that's all we needed (and should expect) from a batch of rejects.

(By the way, not to distract from Carly Rae 'of Light' Jepsen's generosity or from the fact that this eight track release has us all shook, but we're still missing 225 others. That's more than enough material for the proposed MAS•TER•PIECE idea in that open letter. Please consider it, Carly? That concept may be my most prized idea to date. Just a little suggestion.)

E•MO•TION: Side B is available now under Interscope Records as exclusive streaming release on Apple Music and physical release on the Jepsenator's official webstore.

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