By Jacob Carter
Lately there’s been a lot of push-back towards the idea of ‘guilty pleasures’ particularly in music. People are realizing that it doesn’t do any good to anyone to put limits on what’s ‘acceptable’ for people to listen to. While this is a trope that will probably still be played up for laughs in pop culture (“A boy? Singing a song by a girl??? That’s Weird!!!!!”), it’s good to see the world coming to appreciate genuine enthusiasm, given the garbage fire that is the earth in 2017.
For me, personally, pop music was something that I always thought I would like, but wouldn’t allow myself to either because it was “too popular” or because it wasn’t what people that I respected liked. Carly Rae Jepsen’s 2015 LP EMOTION came into my life just as I was getting over these feelings, and the more I listen to it, the more I grow a spiritual attachment to it.
It’s hard to nail down what exactly I like so much about this album, but I think a good to place to start looking for answers is in the diversity between every track. While the whole album has deep roots in both contemporary and ‘80s pop, every track has a unique identity behind it. The upbeat rhythms of “Boy Problems” and “I Really Like You” are a far cry from the darker, moodier melodies of songs like “I Didn’t Just Come Here To Dance.” “Run Away With Me” is a perfect album opener because it falls somewhere in the middle of these kinds of tracks. It has a tempo that drives the song forward at a steady pace, but is heavy on synth accompaniment, which perfectly sets the tone for the rest of the album.
As much as I love the music coming out of the indie scene in 2017, a lot of the albums I listen to have trouble creating different moods for different songs. I’ve heard too many bands fall into the trap of developing style over substance, which can make every track on an album kind of melt together. Every song on EMOTION is so brazenly upfront with its vocals and driving melodies that they each have a unique identity, even though most songs share pretty similar subject matter.
One of the more common knocks against EMOTION is that Jepsen doesn’t really say anything profound lyrically over the course of the album. But given that EMOTION is an ‘80s throwback album that wears its influences so proudly, I think the lyrics accomplish exactly what they need to. You’d be hard-pressed to find an ‘80s hit that isn’t about a relationship in some capacity, so the lyrics on EMOTION fall in line with Jepsen’s paying homage to a musical era that has had a profound influence on her as a musician.
I actually think that the opposite can be argued of EMOTION: the lyrics paint in broad strokes because it’s an album that’s for everyone. On this album, Jepsen is a master at building camaraderie with the listener. Everyone’s had relationship troubles, but with her catchy choruses, Jepsen refuses to feel anything but triumphant about her past experiences, and she wants you to be in the same place. It’s not just that she’s had “boy problems”, it’s that she’s “gotten ‘em too”.
Admittedly, I can’t remember the last weekend that I didn’t kick off by putting EMOTION on shuffle for my bus ride home. Every song is danceable, but Jepsen is so genuine and down-to-earth that even those who don’t like dancing would never feel pressured to listening to this album. So I think what makes this album great is the genuine enthusiasm that’s brought to every single song. Not to say that other pop artists working today don’t pour their hearts and souls into their work, but EMOTION is one of the most lovingly handcrafted and candid albums in recent memory.
Put simply: whether or not you love this album, it loves you. It’s all at once a warm blanket, a shoulder to cry on, and your best friend.