The year is 2012. You can’t legally be in a car for more than five minutes without hearing Somebody That I Used To Know on the radio. Wes Anderson’s Moonrise Kingdom is growing heavily on the public consciousness, arming soft boys with ammunition years before the term ‘softboy’ would enter into the public lexicon. One Direction release What Makes You Beautiful, and Harry is the Cutest Boy You’ve Ever Seen So Help Me God Why Can’t My Hair Do That? (That’s objective fact.)
But something else is sweeping the musical landscape this year. It’s a wildly popular song – second only to Gotye – one filled with hopeless, endearing optimism. It’s the kind of record that could only be produced by a folk production duo before turning into a synth-pop powerhouse produced by Josh Ramsay of Marianas Trench fame. (Sometimes I feel like I’m the only person outside of Canada who actually listened to them. Did anyone else in the UK listen to Marianas Trench? New article idea. Hold that thought.)
That song was double Grammy nominated, Billboard enshrined, selling over seven million copies in the United States alone – Carly Rae Jepsen’s Call Me Maybe.
But I don’t care about Call Me Maybe. I care about the Carly AFTER Call Me Maybe – the pop star who was tired of hearing her own voice on the radio, who felt like her fame was directionless, who retreated to write over 200 songs in an artistic frenzy.
I care about the pop star who wrote the greatest emo album of our generation.
Yeah, that’s a good place to start. Let’s go from there. ‘Emotion’ is the second track of E•MO•TION, by Carly Rae Jepson. (I’m conveniently skipping track 1 because I can’t think of a convincing argument that could pigeonhole it into an emo song. Sorry. Honesty is the best policy.)
The first lines of the album’s titular track are fairly straight forward –
‘Be tormented by me, babe
Wonder, wonder how I do’
Where have I seen a line like this before? The idea of tormenting a lost lover? Let me just consult this handy comparison chart I whipped up earlier.
I just wanna break you down so badly
Taking Back Sunday – MakeDamnSure
I’m gonna make you bend and break
Fall Out Boy – thnks fr the mmrs
I watched you burn/and I felt it
Citizen – The Summer
Joyce Manor – Constant Headache
You better tell your fucking heart to look out
Modern Baseball – Look Out
He doesn’t know you’ll leave him so broken and alone
Free Throw – Two Beers In
Doesn’t look too out of place when placed side by side with some of the heavyweights.
Album breakout hit (‘hit’ being relative- the album only debuted at number 16 on the Billboard 200) ‘I Really Like You’ has the same, unashamed bubblegum pop ethos that catapulted Jepsen to fame with ‘Call Me Maybe’. I Really Like You is different however – it’s introspective. Gone is the schoolgirl naivety of CMM, replaced by a sort of gut wrenching fear that can only come from those awkward first stages of romance. ‘Do you want me too?/Did I say too much? I’m so in my head when we’re out of touch!’ she belts over the chorus. She’s scared. She’s in her feelings. This is the awkward-suburban-white-boy-with-the-beat-up-converse-and-flannel-shirt narrative we’ve ingested countless times. Though this is has an identity of its own. Because it’s Carly. Those themes of alienation and anxiety are nothing new, but it’s refreshing to hear a voice outside of the genre shout about them so unabashedly. It’s still naive, undeniably rooted in teenage melodrama; but hey, at least it’s sprinkled over a crystal clear, synth pop masterpiece.
Emotion is a behemoth of an album in the modern day, standing at an astonishing 15 tracks (the deluxe edition that is; and why would I review anything but the definitive edition?). A Ulysses for the Instagram generation, so to speak. Neither me nor you has time for a detailed and nuanced analysis of the other 12 tracks I’ve yet to discuss. For that reason, I’m presenting them, quickfire style.
GIMME LOVE (Track 4)
Themes: longing, desire, physical intimacy
FFO: Potholes- Modern Baseball, The Medic- Foxing
ALL THAT (Track 5)
Themes: New love, unadulterated commitment
FFO: Pure Devotion- Turnover, Here (In Your Arms)- hellogoodbye
BOY PROBLEMS (Track 6)
Themes: Getting over the break-up, post-breakup-hate
FFO: Tell That Mick He Just Made My List Of Things To Do Today- Fall Out Boy, I’ll See You When We’re Not So Emotional – American Football
MAKING THE MOST OF THE NIGHT (Track 7)
Themes: Teenage rebellion
FFO: Any fan of mid 2000’s emo-pop overblown song titles (think Panic! At The Disco, Cute Is What We Aim For)
YOUR TYPE (Track 8)
Themes: Unrequited love, not feeling good enough
FFO: *Sobs Quietly*-Mom Jeans, Apartment- Modern Baseball
LET’S GET LOST (Track 9)
Themes: …Getting lost, dreamy
FFO: Dizzy On The Comedown- Turnover, Honybee- Seahaven
LA HALLUCINATIONS (Track 10)
Themes: Greed, Decadance
FFO: Anything by post- Ryan Ross Panic! At The Disco
WARM BLOOD (Track 11)
Themes: Ambivalence, Lust
FFO: Anything off of Florida Guilt by Bay Faction
WHEN I NEEDED YOU (Track 12)
Themes: Changing for the better, letting go
FFO: All of the emo bands I wanted to name-drop here are problematic, I’m not sure what that says about the scene.
BLACK HEART (Track 13)
FFO: Literally anything
I DIDN’T JUST COME HERE TO DANCE (Track 14)
Themes: Going to the club to dance and then realising you didn’t just come to the club to dance
FFO: It’s a little niche to be honest.
FAVOURITE COLOUR (Track 15)
Themes: Please Don’t Go Oh God Don’t Go I Need You So Much!!!!
FFO: Red & Blue Jeans- The Promise Ring, Death Cup- Mom Jeans.
And there you have it. E•MO•TION is a third wave, post-twinkle daddy, emo-revival album. I will be taking no criticism for this hot take. Thanks.