Carly Rae Jepsen gives mixed signals with “The Loneliest Time”

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Recommended Tracks: “Anxious” and “Keep Away”

Arists You May Like: Orla Gartland, Chelsea Jade, and Gabrielle Aplin

Two years waiting for Carly Rae Jepsen to release a new album has felt like living in a sonic desert. The Loneliest Time has finally broken that drought, but it’s not as nourishing as many hoped.

The first song is subjectively the best on the album. “Surrender My Heart” is lighthearted and radiant. It takes past mistakes in love and turns them into reasons why it’s going to work this time—it’s a guide of how to love by knowing what to not do. Listening to this song isn’t on the list of things to avoid, thank goodness. A skip away from this track is “Talking to Yourself,” which is sensual, but not garishly so. Though not exceptionally deep, it is a good song. It’s upbeat pop that Carly does well, where her syncopation and style shine through. By this point, the album is already descending.

The verses and pre-chorus of “Joshua Tree” are beautiful, but it derails on the chorus. The repetition is unnecessary and trite at best. If anything, the pre-chorus did a better job, which is disappointing because the whole song had potential. Unlike that cat-fish moment, “Beach House” strutted out and then stepped on every boy’s neck—from “boy number one” to “Boy number I-can’t-keep-count-anymore.” Coquettish at heart, the song pokes fun at the insincere nature of modern dating. The bridge is a breakdown of what those boys really mean when they’re talking; its camp-ish nature fits right in with Carly’s repertoire, but risks turning corny depending which listen you’re on.

“Far Away” is a bit far away from expectation. It’s soft edges are intentional, but the vague nature of the lyrics detracts from the overall sentimentality. However, it’s redemptive streak comes from this being Carly’s first time experimenting with that style. She continues on the heart-eyed trance in “Sideways,” but it quickly becomes nauseating. It’s saccharine sweet, and while the tempo accentuates the smooth rhythms, it also sticks the song’s progression in honey.

“Western Wind” is the lead single of the record, but speaking candidly, it blows almost completely under the radar. It feels hateful to say “yet another love ballad,” but that’s exactly what it is. “Bends” is another confusing ballad from the album. Because it builds up pressure and then never releases it, the song’s energy doesn’t go anywhere. It’s too hard to equate it to the actual bends, but it feels like a wrong direction, all the same. “Go Find Yourself or Whatever” is arguably the best ballad from the album, in juxtaposition. It still has pitfalls, such as the seemingly random vocal effects on only two points of the third verse, as well as the solo during the bridge—something that would probably have been better reserved solely for the live performance. However, it is spared by the melancholic and wistful tonality of Jepsen’s delivery.

The pre-chorus is the heart beat of “Bad Thing Twice,” which overall is good. It still plays it safe, but is closer to the better end of Jepsen’s work than most of the ballads on this album. Similarly, “Shooting Star” would still be blue-white hot, but the robotic, cyborg-vocal effect put on Jepsen’s vocals dims that heat. Sans that, the song is solid. Neither fantastic nor horrible, “Anxious” is a welcome middle ground in comparison to the mercurial fluxuations of the album. On a better album, it would hold the line between brilliance and decency.

“No Thinking Over The Weekend” can’t say the same. The sustained notes are good, but the song itself is lackluster. As the number of instruments increases, the song’s sound does not. It’s not the only song that doesn’t improve as it keeps going, though. The rhythm guitar and percussion entering too late on the first post-chorus of “So Nice” aren’t the only things that feel off about it. The snail’s pace delivery, plus the lack of energy make “So Nice” sound anything but. Eventually, the instrumental gets better, but the rest remains in stasis.

Thought not the most estranged black sheep of the album, “The Loneliest Time” tries to be. A step even further back in time from her usual decade, the 70’s-esque influences aren’t timeless here. Rufus Wainwright has a great voice. Carly Rae Jepsen has a great voice. They do not sound great when singing before and after each other, and even together some moments were testy. Their timbres are so different, with Rufus’ being rich and full in contrast to Carly’s clear-cutting one, and it mixes akin to oil and water. The funky bass and groovy nature of “Keep Away” draws again to the 70’s, but it isn’t out of time here. Production-wise, they finally succeed at adding instruments back in to the mix, and it works. However, the conclusion of the album feels like “that’s all there is?” Unfortunately, this album is going to have the loneliest time being played as a whole.

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Ways to listen to The Loneliest Time

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