The Loveliest Time
Carly Rae Jepsen
After a 7-year-long tradition releasing song collections as B-sides, Carly Rae Jepsen has dropped the bit. Starting in 2015 with her critical and cultural smash Emotion, Jepsen offered a proto-deluxe version with a few new bonus tracks every year after. But after Emotion Side B and Dedicated Side B became Carly Rae canon in their own right, harboring some of her best songs altogether, when announcing her new B-sides project, she decided to call The Loneliest Time’s follow up, simply, The Loveliest Time, an album in its own right.
The Loveliest Time comes 10 months after The Loneliest Time, and continues with its predecessor’s delightfully haphazard mix of musical styles. There are threads between the two works, songs that seem to have evolved from the same studio session, or at least, collaborators: the laid-back psychedelic pop of “Western Wind” and “Bends” blends into the hazy, gorgeous “Kollage”; bangers like “Surrender My Heart” and “Talking to Yourself” coincide with the club-ready “Psychedelic Switch” or nu-disco “Shy Boy,” easily the two most upbeat on the new record.
But there are some places where what Jepsen achieves seems new, at least in the context of her brand of clean-cut pop. For better or for worse, The Loveliest Time is easily her most experimental album, and some songs, when they begin, are hard to identify as tracks that Jepsen eventually finds a place on. The clunkiest of which (and unfortunately, the album’s opener) is “Anything to Be With You”, which begins with an implacable vocal melody and devolves into a haphazard, reggae beat. “Stadium Love”, too, operates on a more-is-more pathos, with Jepsen shouting the final chorus; “Come Over” is fine sonically, but relapses to overdone territory lyrically, especially for someone as romantic as Jepsen (“Come over, come over / I’m ready to see you”).
But with such mishaps also some bizarre, marvelous new directions for Jepsen. She sings of cosmic timing and a revelatory night together on top of the frenetic beat of “After Last Night,” and a similar oddness infuses the chorus of “Aeroplanes” and its surreal imagery (“So I want you to look ahead and now see me / With a candle at your table, real peaceful”). “Put It to Rest” is the album’s only spot where she seems anxious, an overpowering UK garage beat overtaking her as she sings, “Put it to rest so the rest won’t follow me.” And the album’s closer, “Weekend Love”, seems downright — dare I say — Björkian? The flutes and odd vocal samplings could find a place on Utopia as she sings about a progressing relationship.
Above all, The Loveliest Time sheds away the anxiety and overthinking a new love can sometimes bring (described in detail on her past album) and is a testament to letting go. The clues are clear in songs like the self-assured “So Right”: “I was wrong, I’m so into it,” she sings. Even on “Kollage,” she examines her past with a certain eye and reliance: “Leaving you was certainly the hardest part of all,” she sings, “But I was living like a servant to a secret I was trying to protect.” But since, she’s found a Shy Boy who comes out of his shell at the right moments, and these periods of joy are most felt on the exuberant (and sure, sometimes lyrically familiar) “Psychedelic Switch.” Even in dizzying joy, Jepsen remains grounded: “Baby, I’d be satisfied forever with a couple years of this,” she sings.
Though The Loveliest Time won’t be for everyone (and admittedly, took a couple of times for me to get into it, despite being one of Jepsen’s most devout listeners) but it’s undeniable that there’s hidden gems that catapult into her all-time best list. Carly Rae’s gone weird. It might not satisfy the itch long-term Jepsen fans expect with her pure pop, but The Loveliest Time is her most experimental and surprising work to date.
Order The Lonliest Time by Carly Rae Jepsen HERE
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