It’s no denying I wasn’t the fondest of Carly Rae Jepsen’s last album, The Loneliest Time, but it wasn’t something that I totally disliked. When I saw her last month in concert, some of the loudest I sang was with the performances of “Surrender My Heart” and “Talking To Yourself,” but it’s safe to say that continues on a new companion album from The Loneliest Time. It’s more fruitful and emotionally potent – she’s in her bag, exploring love, life, and relationships with the utmost glee and sadness – common traits, honestly – here, it’s more captivating; she’s feeling herself and never letting the scales hold her back. Carly Rae Jepsen’s biggest strength has always been her construction of songs, transitioning from these luscious synth-pop and disco sounds and melodies smoothly. It’s to the point one can’t help but feel lost with the better songs on the album. Unfortunately, some still sound homogenously straight and narrow, never really elevating the dance floor, and the few that do so offer that sensibility of understanding why it was recorded and scrapped for The Loneliest Time. Fortunately, The Loveliest Time is better and more pronounced, leaving you grooving till the midnight moon, despite its weaker moments.
Unlike The Loneliest Time, it takes a few for The Loveliest Time to pick up steam, especially as it opens with the modestly dull “Anything To Be With You.” The same goes for “Kamikaze;” however, the song is little fun, particularly when the chorus hits, but when it hits “After Last Night,” the ball gets officially rolling in a fantastic direction. The synths create this beautiful imbalance, taking it to newer tendencies than apropos synth-pop textures that do little to keep the pop locomotive rolling at a consistent speed. Carly Rae Jepsen’s writing is clever and rarely skews into oblique directions, even if she’s a little corny, like using the Midas touch as an analogy – sampling the song “Midas Touch” by the Midnight Star – towards her physical connection with her lover in “Shy Boy.” It’s the previous track, “Aeroplanes,” where it’s fully hooked. As solid as “After Last Night” is, it doesn’t carry this sensible nuance that makes you feel like you’re floating on cloud nine, a feeling you get more potently within a great five-track run from “Aeroplanes” to “Stadium Love,” with one stumble in “Shadow,” along the way.
Significant highlights are within that run of tracks and after – “Shadow” isn’t the best – but the ones that hit the hardest were “Kollage,” “Psychedelic Switch,” and “Stadium Love.” That isn’t to discredit these other tremendous songs, like “Aeroplane” and “Come Over,” but the formers have the most intense synergy that will have you floating and dancing like you’re listening to “Party For One” for the first time. “Kollage” is slightly atmospheric, and twinkly synths bring layers to the textures to give you something more refreshing than the latter half of The Loneliest Time. It’s a beautifully written song that shows us something refined about Carly and how she handles certain emotions or feelings, like that of hurt. As she would tell Rolling Stone, “It’s more melancholy and deals with realizing that when you hurt yourself, you’re hurting the people that love you. It’s about coming to that place of owning your shit.” With “Psychedelic Switch,” its brightness shines like a new connected lightbulb, and that feeling of being able to view clearer than your current vision, glasses or not. It’s hypnotic and captivates you on the heels of some incredible vocal performances reminiscent of Disco blended with smooth R&B.
The anthemic “Stadium Love” brings that energy one gets by hitting a significant marker. In this case, Carly Rae Jepsen relays how a love she feels is more potent than a sold-out arena yelling encore. The production matches that intensity, especially when the synths and bass grooves collide, creating this electric-funk sensation that hits the nail with captivatingly powerful guitar riffs – sort of like a solo – brings you back to the essence of Arena Rock, where the instruments hold as much power as, if not more than, the vocalists. Think about “Baba O’Riley” by The Who – what’s the first thing to come to mind – the opening instrumental riffs that let you know where it’s leading next, and that’s all thanks to the eclectic synths and piano in the intro. The production of The Loveliest Time usually takes intriguing directions with the way they connect, sometimes getting a hint of subtle futurism with “Put It To Rest,” produced by Patrik Berger, known for his work with Charli XCX – “Boom Clap.” “So Right,” by Cole M.G.N, is a nostalgic and uncomplicated synth-funk track that does all the little things right to let Carly guide the summery charms of the song.
The writing of The Loveliest Time is more poignant; we hear Carly Rae Jepsen taking on different emotional directions, and never so much trying to get lost in fantastical moments or feelings, though it does happen; here, she is having fun and getting into her emotional bag. It makes it a little more refreshing to go through and with production like I’ve noted, and as it comes to an end, you get left with a solid summer album that really improves on what was missing with her last album. I couldn’t help but keep the latter half on a loop and really feel entrenched in these sounds from producers like Patrik Berger and Rostam Batmanglij. If you weren’t a fan of the previous album, or even a fan of this era in general, The Loveliest Time will be something you’ll enjoy and endure till the sun doesn’t shine anymore.