CARLY RAE JEPSEN – THE LONELIEST TIME REVIEW

Carly Rae Jepsen has been one of the most underrated Pop artists(as well as one of the most underrated artists in general) in the industry for a long time. Unfortunately, I think her viral ‘Call Me Maybe’ single sort of made her too much of a meme for a lot of casual music fans when she first popped off. This song is extremely catchy and fun, but it has one-hit wonder energy written all over it, and a lot of people, unfortunately, didn’t give her much of a chance after it came out. Carly Rae was one of the first artists(if not the first artist) to start incorporating retro Synth-wave themes into modern Pop music. In my opinion(and the opinion of a lot of Pop music fans online), her 2015 album Emotion is probably the best Pop album of the 2010s. It is fun, light, innovative, and so fresh; everything about this record is literally great. The “side B” of the record is almost as good, bringing just as much sweet energy as the “side A” version of the record. Carly followed this up with 2019’s Dedicated, which also centers around themes of 80s Synth Pop and Disco music and is honestly almost just as good as Emotion. Once again, this record has so much positive energy and is such a breath of fresh air compared to most of the other Pop music being made when it came out. Once again, the “side B” version of this record is very good as well, as it expands upon the sonic and lyrical themes of its “side A” marvelously. Because of how great these two records are, her new record, The Loneliest Time, comes with lofty expectations. It will be tough to follow up on two albums that are so just so great like those are, but if there is anyone that can do this, it is Carly Rae Jepsen. With that being said, here is how I feel about Carly Rae Jepsen’s record The Loneliest Time. Please let me know in the comments below if you like this album, and please comment what your favorite songs from it are.

The Loneliest Time gets off to a great start with the song ‘Surrender My Heart.’ This track uses the 80s Synth-Pop and Disco sound that Carly Rae Jepsen has become so good at. This song has such a bright and delightful melody that is so breezy and easy-going; it is the kind of melody that will put anyone in a good mood when they hear it. This track sounds like the kind of song you would hear during the positive climax of a coming-of-age 80s teen movie. As expected on this kind of track, Carly’s sweet vocals sound so nice on this instrumental. ‘Surrender My Heart’ is a great example of how to do this sound skillfully. On ‘Surrender My Heart,’ Carly is trying to open up to a new relationship and not hold onto the baggage of her past that makes her reluctant to let this new person in. Following this, we get ‘Joshua Tree,’ which has a bit of a different sound than what we have become accustomed to hearing from Carly Rae Jepsen. This song has a very funky bassline that is reminiscent of 70s Pop and R&B. Usually, this kind of bassline will be the driving factor in a song like this, but weirdly I think there is something that drives the sound more than the bassline. The melody is also made up of chunky synths that have an early 2000s Pop sound to them. The synths that make up this melody make me think of artists like Britney Spears and Christina Aguilera. Although this is not the kind of song one would expect from Carly Rae Jepsen, I have to say it works out pretty well. Carly has the sort of voice that can adapt to so many kinds of instrumentals, and she sounds as natural as ever on this track. On ‘Joshua Tree,’ Carly Rae is singing about driving to the desert outside of Los Angeles to gather her thoughts and get away from the negativity that is driving her down. After ‘Joshua Tree’ is ‘Talking To Yourself,’ was one of the many singles released from this record; it is one of my favorite Pop songs from 2022. This song has such a warm and buzzy tone that is so warm and pleasant to listen to. Although this song does have the 80s Synth-Pop elements that Carly excels at, this song also has elements that remind me of the 2010s-era Pop-House. There is something about this track that reminds me of songs like ‘Clarity’ by Zedd and Foxes or ‘Feel So Close’ by Calvin Harris. I really love the vocal effects that come in on the chorus of the track, as they add a weird texture to it that make it more fun. On ‘Talking To Yourself,’ Carly is singing about her ex and wondering if they still feel the same kind of love for her that she still feels for them. ‘Far Away’ provides a bit of a switch-up in energy from the first few tracks, and similar to ‘Joshua Tree’ it goes with a sound that we have not really heard from Carly Rae Jepsen. This track does have elements of the retro Synth-Pop that Carly loves so much, but the pacing and overall energy of the track are a lot different than what one would expect to hear from Carly Rae Jepsen. It has a slower and calmed feeling than the typical high energy she usually goes with. I appreciate that she is trying something different and showing that she still has new tricks up her sleeve. On ‘Far Away,’ is singing about reconnecting with someone romantically that it did not work out with at first. She wants to start over and act like they are just meeting for the first time again.

‘Sideways’ is another moment where Carly tried out a style of music we have not heard from her before. The instrumental has a Psychedelic Funk sound that I do not think anyone would expect to hear from Carly Rae Jepsen. The instrumental makes me think of artists like Tame Impala. Even though I never imagined hearing Carly make this kind of music, it honestly works well. Her voice sounds very natural in this kind of funk music.  I would not mind hearing this kind of music from her at some point again in the future, as it is apparent she can be very good at it. On ‘Sideways,’ Carly Rae Jepsen is singing about a new love interest of hers and how being with him makes everything around her better. ‘Beach House’ is another one of the singles that was released before this album dropped. This track was the first indication for the listener that the record was going to go in a different and more funky direction than what one might expect to hear from Carly Rae Jepsen. Similar to ‘Joshua Tree,’ the melody and style of beat have elements that make me think of some of the Pop music that was big in the early to mid-2000s. When I first heard this song, the artist that I kept thinking about was Maroon 5. It has a funky R&B Pop sound that brings me back to songs like ‘Moves Like Jagger’ or ‘This Love.’ I appreciate the fact that Carly is trying to switch up her sound, but to me, this style of Pop did not age super well and is not my cup of tea. On ‘Beach House,’ Carly is talking about the struggles of online dating and how it seems like every guy online has the same unoriginal message: “I have money and I am going to hurt you.” Carly Rae Jepsen gets back to her roots in the song ‘Bends.’ It is a song with a very light and ethereal Synth Wave that sounds like it came right out of the 1980s. The track has an element that makes me think of happy songs from 80s Teen Movies. Specifically, I could see this song playing during a love scene in moves like Fast Times at Ridgemont High and Can’t Buy Me Love. I honestly love the sweet tone that this track has, as it has the kind of sound that just puts me in a good mood. The tempo is upbeat but not too high key, giving the song an energetic sound without giving it a dance club feel. On ‘Bends,’ Carly Rae Jepsen is singing about trying to use a significant other and nice weather to try to feel better about losing a loved one. 

‘Western Wind,’ which was also a single, is an additional moment where Carly Rae Jepsen tries out a sound that one would not expect to hear from her. This is one of the strangest songs on the album in the way that it is organized. It is tough to pinpoint the influence of the sound for this track because it is kind of all over the place. Parts of the song are synth-heavy, parts of it have a piano-driven Acoustic Pop sound, and parts of it have a Folk-Rock ballad sound to it. There are even mini guitar solos sprinkled into the track. When Carly Rae Jepsen first started her career, she experimented with some Folk-Pop music, and this seems to be her venture back into that sound. I am not going to lie, in the context of this album I feel like this track does not make a ton of sense. Carly’s performance is fine and her vocals do sound nice on this instrumental, but the song does not seem to fit in super well with what is happening on the rest of the record. In ‘Western Wind,’ Carly is singing about reconnecting with who she is and realizing that she has to love herself to love anyone else properly. Following this, we get ‘So Nice,’ where Carly goes back to the retro Funk sound that we have seen throughout this record. Out of all her ventures into Funky Pop on this record to his point, this track is my favorite. It has a breathy and airy sound that is so satisfying to listen to. The somewhat distorted guitar riff that drives the melody that feels like it is scratching an itch in the brain when I hear it. Carly’s rich tone sounds so natural on this track; I love the vocal performance. On ‘So Nice,’ Carly is singing about a new significant other who treats her super well and makes her feel really good when she is with him. Carly Rae once again goes back to the sound she is known for on the next track, ‘Bad Thing Twice.’ This track has that Disco-driven Dance-Pop sound that she has absolutely excelled at. It has a sound that reminds me so much of her album Emotion. I love the bassline in this song, which is the main thing that drives the melody. It is so fun and fresh and sweet, and it makes me want to dance every time I hear it. ‘Bad Thing Twice’ has a melody and beat that will make anyone want to move their feet to the rhythm when they listen to it. Carly’s vocal performance on this track is not anything out of the ordinary, but it is perfect for this track. She rides the instrumental so well, contributing to the delightful nature of the song without overshadowing it. I enjoy the guitar riff that comes in at the end of the track, as it gives an extra layer of texture to the song that sounds so nice. On ‘Bad Thing Twice,’ is singing about reconnecting with someone with whom she ended up having a negative ending in the past.

‘Shooting Star’ is one more track where Carly Rae Jepsen goes with a sound that is in the same vein as the Dance-Pop sound that her fans love so much. Instead of having a retro sound like so many other of her Dance-Pop tracks, this one sounds a lot more modern. The distortion on the guitar riff that drives this beat reminds me of some of the EDM-tinted Funky Pop music that became popular online in the early to mid-2010s. Specifically, this instrumental makes me think of groups like Chromeo or Breakbot. The way the vocals are arranged and distorted is reminiscent of early Kero Kero Bonito music. In other words, this song is very good and is super fresh compared to Carly Rae Jepsen’s other music in this vein. On ‘Shooting Star,’ Carly is singing about a new fling that makes her feel really good and young. Next, we get ‘Go Find Yourself or Whatever,’ which majorly slows down the pace and tone and is also way different from what Carly has done in a very long time. This is the second time she tried out the Folk sound on this record. Similar to the first time she tried Folk on the record, it does not fit in super well. It changes the whole attitude that the last several songs of the record have had, and it does not fit in at all. I would not have minded if she would have put these Folk songs on the side B edition of this record which she will eventually release, but feel like they mess with the energy of this album. I will say that Carly Rae Jepsen’s vocals do sound very nice on this track, and would not necessarily mind hearing her try this kind of music in the future on a full project in this style because of this performance. On ‘Go Find Yourself or Whatever,’ Carly is singing about a messy break-up that was messy. The album closes out with ‘The Loneliest Time,’ which features Rufus Wainwright. This track was the last song that was released as a single from the record, and it has gone viral on Tik Tok. If you are active on that app, you have certainly heard the clip of her talking on the bridge of this song. This song has a Yacht-Rock Disco sound that is so fresh and cool; it will put anyone in a good mood when they hear it. It has the kind of melody and style that just makes me smile. This song reminds me a lot of music like ‘Escape(The Pina Colada song)’ or the music of the Bee Gees. On ‘The Loneliest Time,’ Carly Rae and Rufus Wainwright are singing about a rekindling of something with an old flame she regrets ending things with. ‘The Loneliest Time’ is a really nice and positive way to end this record. 

I think that sometimes as music fans, we sometimes set way too high expectations for artists and want them to stay in the same box that we have come to love them in. Instead of seeing them expand and grow, we would rather see them do exactly what we came to love about them in the first place with no deviation. I would say that I(and many other people that have been fans of Carly for a long time) are culprits of this. On The Loneliest Time, Carly does have a lot of music that is similar to her last two beloved previous records, but she also expands her horizons and tries something new. I appreciate the fact that she gave her old fans some of what they wanted, but also pushed her boundaries and showed how diverse of an artist she can be. The only thing I will say is that I wish the album was organized a bit more cleanly. I feel like the slower and more calm moments on the record are kind of randomly sprinkled in, and do not always make sense. They just end up messing with the tempo and fluidity of the record. The Loneliest Time still has a ton of quality, though, and there is a lot for everyone to love on it. With The Loneliest Time, Carly Rae Jepsen shows that she can still be one of the most exciting and entertaining artists to listen to that are making Pop music today.

FAVORITE TRACKS: Surrender My Heart, Talking To Myself, Sideways, Beach House, So Nice, Bad Thing Twice, Shooting Star, The Loneliest Time(feat. Rufus Wainwright

7.52/10

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