Release Date: Aug 26, 2016
Record label: Interscope
If the deluxe and Japanese editions of E-MO-TION didn't prove that the album's sessions were a remarkably creative and prolific time for Carly Rae Jepsen, this collection of even more songs should confirm it. But where E-MO-TION proper and its expanded releases showcased the breadth of Jepsen's music, E-MO-TION [Side B] focuses on a few niches. Nobody does '80s-inspired pop better than her, whether it's the bright and bubbly "First Time," the neon oddity "Store," or the slightly more modern-sounding "Higher.
Review Summary: Romance is fine / Pour me some wineMan, how did Carly Rae Jepsen do it? If you’d asked a music fanatic a few short years ago what they thought of the Queen of Sitting, ninety percent of them likely would have laughed in your face. The internet’s opinion about-faced at astronomical speed as Emotion started leaking towards the west after its initial Japanese release. I can’t remember any pop star’s shift in appraisal being remotely as radical - Justin Bieber’s reinvention on Purpose comes close, and Demi Lovato’s reconstruction on “Cool For The Summer” is in the same ballpark, but neither of them have achieved the ludicrous amount of respect Jepsen in just two or three months last year.
Carly Rae Jepsen is the queen of beating the odds — or maybe just our doubts. She's a critically acclaimed nostalgia pop artist free of the embarrassing high school yearbook photo that is being a former Canadian Idol contestant, an escapee from her bombastic 2012 hit "Call Me Maybe" that flew too close to the sun of a one-hit wonder and a favourite collaborator of producers as innovative as Dev Hynes and PC Music's Danny L Harle. While her 2015 album E•MO•TION was a critical breakthrough, even earning a nomination for this year's Polaris Music Prize, the barrier that prevented Jepsen from reaching massive commercial success was overthought.
Carly Rae Jepsen doesn’t sing love songs, exactly. A friend pointed out that Carly lives in the intervals—when love is just out of frame, acting as a gravitational force. Her songs are preludes and codas. “First Time,” the opening track of E•MO•TION Side B—a collection of outtakes released a year after last year’s E•MO•TION—is a coda and prelude at the same time.
This has been a rich year for popular music, driven by major artists who continue to evolve in ways that are surprising and distinct from their peers. With a third of the year still before us, Beyoncé, Rihanna, Frank Ocean, Kanye West, David Bowie, Charli XCX, and Kendrick Lamar have transcended expectations with albums that respond to the modern channels through which stardom is built and maintained. No longer do you need a radio hit or arena tour to matter.