Carly Rae Jepsen’s new album E•MO•TION has already been divisive, and it’s not even technically out yet. The Canadian pop-star-who-could is currently trying to distance herself from the comet tail of assumptions that followed her 2012 earworm smash “Call Me Maybe,” a song so powerfully popular it cemented her firmly in most people’s minds as a lowbrow pop mouthpiece. Guess they didn’t listen to the rest of Kiss, the album that single was supposed to introduce. To follow that up, Jepsen and her team were determined to put together a record full of focused, crisp pop songs that were impossible to ignore. “This time we wanted to stop worrying about singles and focus on having a critically acclaimed album,” manager-savant Scooter Braun told The New York Times last week, regarding the lack of radio airplay for the first big track “I Really Like You” (we really, really liked it) and subsequent singles. Flat-out stating that goal only confirms what anyone who has listened to the record already knows: It’s a pop masterpiece.
To go from assumed one-hit wonder to master of craft is practically the largest jump an artist could make in their career. It’s harder than going from country to pop, it’s tougher than catapulting from indie clubs to arenas, it’s more difficult than leaving a successful group to pursue a solo career. Why? Because it’s about perceived intent, the haughty spirit that still lurks in the corner of every bit of art created in a baldly capitalist, exploitive society. Critics, other artists, and fans alike all routinely assume they know the intent of their fellow creators, particularly in the world of pop. However, this intent is often sussed out based off the creative act itself. The only way to respect what Carly has created her is to honor her stated intent, instead of foisting your own ideas upon these songs. So leave whatever assumptions you drew based off “Call Me Maybe” or Kiss itself in the past, and open your heart to the idea that E•MO•TION is as much a labor of love as any other album you’ll connect with this year. Listening to her latest single “Making Most Of The Night” makes that an even easier feat.
Jepsen’s album came out in Japan already, and “Making The Most Of The Night” marks the sixth single released. It follows aforementioned “I Really Really Like You,” “All That,” “Emotion,” “Run Away With Me,” and “Warm Blood,” and though it shares DNA with all of these, it’s decidedly its own beast. Stippled with wobbling bass line funk and shuddering waves of huge Phil Collins-doomsday percussion, “Making The Most Of The Night” is about loving someone who is broken in the brief space of time you’ve been given. Sia is a co-writer on this one, and her habit of finding beauty in the shards of the past shines through. Plenty of songs paint the lover as the hero who will rescue their beloved, but they always have an underlying element of self-assured pride, a sense that the rescuer is more enamored with their own bravery than anything else. Not here. Instead, Jepsen’s empathy for her lover’s wounds is what fuels her desire to whisk them away from the stark realities of daylight. The impetus for the song is this selfless love, twinkling through starlight, dreamily cooed “aaahhs” and swelling, Disney-sized strings. This is love translated into midnight joyrides beside the ocean, propelled on by speeding synthesizers, handclaps, and her playful, ever-confident voice. The past exists, and it was rough as hell, but Jepsen is gunning toward hope and healing like a romantic laser-synth powered by moonlight. She is here to hijack you. Don’t waste another day — just say yes.
E•MO•TION is out in the U.S. on 8/21 via Schoolboy Records/Interscope.