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Kanye West boastfully rapped “I forgot better shit than you ever thought of” on his 2005 track “Diamonds From Sierra Leone.” It’s a line that comes to mind repeatedly when listening to Carly Rae Jepsen’s new album, E•MO•TION B-Sides. Made up of songs that didn’t make Jepsen’s 2015 album E•MO•TION, these eight (initially) scrapped songs are now seeing the light of day and forming one of the best pop albums of the year. That’s pretty baller.
Released on the one-year anniversary of Jepsen’s critically acclaimed third studio album, the E•MO•TION B-Sides tracks were written with the help of an A-list crew, including longtime writing partner Tavish Crowe, as well as Dev Hynes, Greg Kurstin, and Rami, who all worked on E•MO•TION.
It’s an impressive amount of mileage to get out of one album, with Jepsen already releasing a number of remixes from E•MO•TION, including a full remix album in Japan. She’s really big in Japan.
Jepsen posted a note to fans on her Instagram page, saying she had no plans to release the songs, but had a change of heart after setting out on her Emotion Tour, which she calls “the most joyful touring experience of my life.” Seeing the fan response to the album, Jepsen writes “…all I wanted was to give back more of the feelings you all gave me. So this is for you guys…”
Taylor Swift may have named her last album 1989, but it was Jepsen’s E•MO•TION that reminded listeners the 80s were much more than a decade of neon bike shorts and crimped hair. Although, they had a lot of that, too. Much like Emotion, E•MO•TION B-Sides is full of retro inspired dance floor anthems like “Body Language” and “First Time,” demonstrating Jepsen’s innate ability to write earworms.
As the underrated voice of a generation, Jepsen expertly covers dating in 2016, with songs about friends with benefits and being friend-zoned. That track “Fever” sounds like it was written after a night spent studying Jon Cryer’s Duckie from Pretty In Pink. It doesn’t get more lovingly ’80s than that.
Getting experimental with her lyrics, Jepsen includes some seemingly lighthearted bops as well, penning the kitschy “Store.” Singing “I’m just going to the store / You might not see me anymore / I’m just going to the store,” the seemingly carefree track is actually about Jepsen leaving a relationship by saying she’s going to the store and never coming back. It makes breaking up with a post-it seem pretty nice.
Though widely known for her bubbly, happy-go-lucky singles “Call Me Maybe” and “I Really Like You,” like most great artists, it’s Jepsen’s pain that enables her to shine, crafting timeless songs about heartbreak that will resonate with fans years after its release.
Following in the footsteps of Robyn’s “Dancing On My Own,” Jepsen’s suffering is as visceral as it is danceable. The opening to “Cry” is reminiscent of Sinead O’Connor’s heartbreak masterpiece “Nothing Compares 2 U,” while the soaring build of “Roses” encapsulates the listener in, what else, emotion.
Best Tracks: “Fever,” “Cry”