emails i can’t send
For some time, Sabrina Carpenter has been working on slick, not-quite-album-length samplings of songs with 2018 and 2019’s Singular acts 1 and 2, but now, she returns with emails i can’t send, a kinda-concept album, kinda-mixtape. It presents her continued growth as an artist, and though it has some misses, there’s always more hits to come.
For a singer of such a young age, she’s impressively consistent with throwing up solid pop songs. The hard hitters here are “Nonsense,” a simple idea that’s insanely catchy, “Read your Mind,” a string-laden disco number, “Already Over,” reflective yet upbeat, and “Fast Times,” a new and subdued area she’s yet to explore.
Her influences are all over the place: there’s a country twang to “Nonsense” and “Bad Business,” her raw, screaming rage in “Vicious” is Olivia Rodrigo-like (who, in turn, takes inspiration from Taylor Swift). And on “Nonsense” and ad-libs in other songs, we get a vocal performance similar to Positions-era Ariana Grande. “skinny dipping,” though, stands out in the wrong ways for its speech-like cadence, a trick uniquely unsuited for Carpenter’s voice.
Throughout all her albums, her light and airy voice is at the forefront at all of her best songs, and the new album smartly follows the same formula. “Nonsense” is playful and incredibly satisfying when she sings, “it feels so good I had to jump the octave.” “because i liked a boy” details the Olivia Rodrigo/Joshua Bassett love triangle without actively pummeling a teenager (though her 2021 song about the whole situation, “Skin,” is deeply funny).
When the album falters, it’s because it gets bogged down in minutiae: “You used a fork once,” she sings on “how many things,” “It turns out forks are fucking everywhere.” On “skinny dipping,” similarly, she takes a Phoebe Bridgers-like approach to detailing anecdotes, with a less successful result: “It’ll be a Wednesday / And I’ll be going to this coffee shop / Hear the barista call an oat milk latte and your name / And I look up from my phone / And think there’s no chance it’s you, but it is.”
She’s already grown immensely since her debut, and emails i can’t send is a worthy display of her talents. It’s not exactly airtight, but a sturdy and enjoyable collection of songs nevertheless.
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