One of 2015’s acclaimed cult hits was Carly Rae Jepsen’s Emotion, a brilliant 80s inflected Robyn influenced pop record, which lived up to its title and was adored by critics but unfortunately didn’t sell as many copies as it deserved. The reason for this? Who knows, maybe it was the hang-over from Jepsen’s first single Call Me May Be or the lack of much marketing around the release. Whatever the reason it’s lack of crossover success was a shame as the album was pure pop brilliance.
Jepsen has followed Emotion by releasing Emotion Side B essentially the studio off-cuts from last year’s album. However, if these are off cuts it certainly doesn’t show, everything is polished, perfect and hugely enjoyable. The 80s vibe and Robyn influences remain and those who enjoy that sound will love this album. It might also be a safe bet to say that anyone who enjoys Chrvches might also enjoy what Jepsen has to offer here.
The opening two tracks are straight up synth lead 80s pop, anthemic and love obsessed. They are enjoyable and smart. And that is perhaps one thing, which is on show most here, this is pop, but pop for adults. There is a brain behind each track, which gives the album strength over the work of many of her peers.
Track 3 the One is perhaps the strongest on the album and could easily be a lead single and is indeed good enough to be most pop musician’s main single let alone their album off cut.
Cry also stands out as a lovelorn and brilliant pop take on a struggle with male emotions and expression as Jepsen sings about the difficulty of trying to read men when they struggle to express themselves in the way they may want to but have been socially constrained from doing so. It’s a sophisticated attempt to explore the dynamics between men and women in the modern world over subtle pop synths. And works exceptionally well.
Part of what makes last year’s album and this new EP so brilliant is the production, which is poppy yet mournful, clever and insightful, much of this influence has come from Dev Haynes, of Blood Orange fame, who has an ear for a great pop hook and has spent a lot of time in the studio with the one time Canadian pop idol star.
If you are a fan of alt pop music and enjoy Lapsley, Halsey, Chrvches, Robyn etc then this EP is for you, I doubt in fact there will be many better pop records released this year. Here’s hoping a few more people are listening this time around as Carly Rae Jepsen deserves your attention.