Review by Austin Hayes, Production Director of LASR.
Before I start, I feel obligated to say that Carly Rae Jepsen is not the kind of artist I usually listen to. I don’t say this to put down pop music, or to distance myself from Jepsen (especially not this album). I say this because I can’t stop listening to this EP. While I consider myself an equal-opportunity music listener, I regularly fall back to genres that draw my attention more frequently, mainly hip hop and 90’s indie/alternative. This album, however, will undoubtedly become a regular for me.
Following up last year’s success, EMOTION, the EMOTION Side B EP breaks any expectation one may set for something an artist labels as her b-side. EMOTION was made to be more than just another pop album, instead of just having a worldwide sensation of a single, Carly Rae and her manager Scooter Braun set their eyes on making Carly’s EMOTION a critically acclaimed success (as discussed in this NYT article). But I’m not here to discuss an album that has been out for over a year.
EMOTION Side B definitely feels like an EP when compared to last year’s album, but it is an EP that is 100% bangers from beginning to end. The 80’s style synth beats throughout the EP are infectious and I simply can’t help but move when I hear them. The album starts with “First Time”, an incredibly catchy, synth-filled track reminiscing about a relationship coming to an end, and how every heartbreak feels like the “first time”. “Higher” moves past the heartbreak with an electric drum heavy beat, where Jepsen is pulled up by her new partner out of her cynicism and loneliness.
Then comes my absolute favorite track, “The One”. Based off of the title, I expected the average lovey pop song about her new boo possibly being “The One”. But no, that’d be too straightforward for Carly. Instead Carly is speaking of a relationship that she never saw as a relationship to begin with, something that has become more than she expected, and as she says in the post-chorus, “it’s too much pressure” for her, she absolutely does not want to be “The One” of this person’s affection. “Fever” is the reverse image of the previous track, explaining no matter that her significant other is breaking her heart, she will feel their fever forever. Two songs later, “Cry” deals with an emotionally shut-off lover, and while the chorus of this track feels a tad grating at times it is still a powerful, emotional track. Right after this comes a very close second favorite for me. “Store” opens with an etherial sound with a heart-beat like drum backing, that works itself up to a crunchy, horn filled beat when the chorus comes around.
Carly Rae Jepsen proves time and time again that she is an artist that is here to stay. What started as the “Call Me Maybe” girl has blossomed into an artist capable of crafting songs so good, the B side EP to her meticulously made 2015 album impresses more than I thought possible. This EP makes me excited for her future releases, and knowing that 200 tracks were tested for the 2015 album makes hopeful for more synth laden, emotion filled bangers that are found on both the album and this incredible EP. I give this EP a solid 8/10.
Austin Hayes hosts a weekly radio show not about pop music, but the ~paranormal~
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