Poptimism’s mascot returns with a slightly more mellow sound, but the spirit of fun is still alive and well
If poptimism has a mascot, it’s Carly Rae Jepsen. She deftly sidestepped the one-hit-wonder label with delicious hooks and explosive production, building a fanbase who, ironically, are just as devoted regardless of how successful her music is. Fifth album The Loneliest Time features a slightly more mellow sound, perhaps following in the footsteps of Taylor Swift and Lorde, but the spirit of fun is still alive and well.
The first big hit comes with Talking To Yourself, as Jepsen confronts an old flame over a Divinyls-esque topline (“Are you reaching for me, making love to someone else? / do you talk to me when you’re talking to yourself?”), and Bad Thing Twice utilises a punchy backbeat to soundtrack an ill-advised relationship that just can’t end. So far so conventionally enjoyable, but Far Away adds nuance with a lopsided drum loop and blissful pads, in some ways a bit new age though anchored by Jepsen’s pristine vocals.
There are no bad songs on The Loneliest Time per se but some elements prove frustrating, whether it’s the clunky la-la-las on So Nice or Shooting Star’s garish auto-tune (both otherwise solid songs). Such issues could be a consequence of the record’s rotating cast, and luckily E•MO•TION collaborator Rostam provides the more accomplished Western Wind and Go Find Yourself Or Whatever. On the former a combination of muted chords and lo-fi bongos makes for a surprisingly wistful ditty about memories of love, and the latter brings the tempo right down and introduces more folksy elements, more vulnerability to the mix.
All that’s left after that is the endearing chemistry between her and Rufus Wainwright on the disco-flavoured title track, and we have an album that diversifies Jepsen’s sound in intriguing ways, while sounding a bit rough around the edges at times.