In 2011, Carly Rae Jepsen’s megahit ‘Call Me Maybe’ shed all of the sexual grit that flirtatious number ones are normally encrusted with, in favour of innocent, impromptu shyness. Obviously that paid off as she hid behind a diary, reluctant to hand it over to Boy X and ask for his number, and her cute and unfortunate little girl persona didn’t stop, later having a residency as Cinderella on Broadway. It is about as ‘Disney’ as one can possibly be without being sat between Snow White and Ariel on a Disneyworld parade float.
It is a peculiar paradox, in how everything about Princess Jepsen’s career, getting its first spark with an appearance on Canadian Idol, is so plastic, with little emotion beyond weeping when one doesn’t get through to the next round – yet on the other hand, the removal of the standard filth leaves behind just what its title promises, and for the better – Emotion.
There is just the overly innocent bluntless that has come to be expected from Jepsen, and a constant stream of playful thoughts, with emphasis on ‘playful’, albeit with the teasing of reluctance to hand over a scrap of paper with her number on, and is never in doubt of anything ever going wrong. She and whoever is by her side will never skip while they skip through the electronic daisies. All that she ever has to complain about is that her dreams haven’t come true yet. She orders her partner to run away with her during ‘Run Away With Me’. He hasn’t yet, but don’t worry. He will. When she says that she orders on loop that you “gimmie love, gimmie love, gimmie love, gimmie love” (during ‘Gimmie Love’), don’t panic. You will. You’ll end up together one day. When she declares that she “really, really, really, really, really, really, really, like(s) you” (during ‘I Really Like You’), you… get the picture. The deepest misery that Jepsen ever dips her ever jolly toes into isn’t even her only, and of course only to comfort her upset best friend, during the fittingly titled ‘Boy Problems’, that everything will be alright in the end.
Never has it been so infuriating to be so happy. Yet in what should be so horrifically plastic and empty in that simplicity, can be found the most childish fun that one could justifiably enjoy. Just. Maybe. How on earth does she get away with this? To begin with comes a very bold statement: Jepsen’s opener ‘Run Away With Me’ is the pop song of 2015. She remains a recluse in character somewhat, though not having hidden from the hubbub of life outside of the garage with her band, but now having lived the life of billion YouTube hit worldwide stardom, she wants to slip away from the penthouse party with Boy X (presumably. Her innocence radiates that she’s nowhere close to a Boy Y or Z) and adventure like she never has done before. Sure, “I’ll be your sinner in secret”, but the noise, and additional stand out pandemonium of saxophones and layers upon layers of powerful vocals building throughout says that in spite of blunt slipping away to do whatever, everything we really need to know is staring us in the face. She is pretty careless and pretty happy. It is about as dense a beam of mischievous jollity as is physically possible.
That said, while not truly repetitive, and that it does have the aforementioned extremities, few tracks standout alone – something perhaps desired in a genre best associated with three-minute chunks. However on the opposite end of the scale, where listeners are taken to lighter and airier heights, they are served the same emotional purpose with the brilliantly ambient and sparse ‘All That’, sprinkled with different sounds poking in throughout, building certain electronic keys, bleeps, bloops and twinkles and seemingly infinite vocal reverb. The odd slap of bass is the only thing to prevent the subject floating away in the process of succumbing to Jepsen’s girlish attempt at her own blushing ballad. It is understandably difficult to avoid name dropping the 1980s synth influence fed through Taylor Swift’s 1989, in particular with her hit ‘Blank Space’ by comparison, and it’s for that reason that in most instances, despite it’s sheer fun, they rub dangerously close.
Yet while it is understandably a mish-mash of high production values and countless songwriters, this is one bizarre album that maintains that titular emotion in an explosive enough fashion to call the chaos of 80s bubblegum pop war-zone closer ‘When I Needed You’ a very grand finale.
See? She wasn’t lying after all. They all lived happily ever after.