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Carly Rae Jepsen finds serene romance in The Loneliest Time

"The Loneliest Time"

Release date: 21 October 2022
Carly loneliest time art
21 October 2022, 00:00 Written by Sam Franzini

The sword-wielding, Beatles-triumphing, cult-followed Carly Rae Jepsen has built a foundation on dancefloor-filling, emotional gems like “Run Away With Me” or “Cut to the Feeling”.

So when “Western Wind” was released this May, it was a distinct turn for the pop phenomenon. The stripped-back, nature-oriented tune showed signs of Lorde’s 2021 deviation, Solar Power, though Jepsen’s earthy persona felt more at ease. Her resulting fifth album, The Loneliest Time, didn’t abandon her electropop roots completely, but shifted towards the simple, solid, and romantic.

Gorgeous one-liners and depictions of love surround The Loneliest Time — “Far Away” sees her looking forward to her partner’s declarations of love, and the title track sees two lovers reuniting after a time apart, knocking on each other’s doors and enjoying one’s company. She’s the most love-drenched on “Sideways”, though, where her mood can’t help being lifted. “Ever since you said that you were mine / Everything’s going my way.” Jepsen’s love-focused songs prove she just feels emotions quicker, faster, and harder (also mentioned on Dedicated track “Too Much”), and here, her words just spill out before she can think about them: “One more cute disaster / Said ‘I love you’ twice / Before you could even answer / It’s hard here in paradise.”

Jepsen experiments here with production and her voice more than any other album. She doesn’t embrace traditional pop structures on the lovely “Bends”, instead the energy moves only slightly upward. About the grief of losing a family member, the track takes on an ethereal quality when she says “Just me and all my cousins know / We are the sensitive ones.” “Go Find Yourself Or Whatever” is the record’s sparsest song, even embracing near silence at some points along the 5-minute epic. It’s one of her most vulnerable songs to date, with her admitting, “Maybe when my heart’s done breaking / Then I could forgive what you tried.” Only “Shooting Star”, with its odd vocal manipulation and phoned-in lyrics (“I might sleep with you tonight / If you wanna know why / Just because summertime”) feels out of place.

Interestingly, the male voice comes into play a surprising number of times on The Loneliest Time — her vocals are backed up on “Far Away”, and “So Nice” is peppered with modulated “la-la-la”s. On the campy “Beach House”, a parody song detailing the chaos of modern dating, Jepsen evades men who pop up to say “I got a lake house in Canada / And I’m probably gonna harvest your organs.” Rufus Wainwright does a fine job assisting on the album’s disco-tinged title track, but on a place where Jepsen’s star power is at its highest — especially on the playful “I’m coming back for you, baby!” — she might’ve shined better when full focus was on her.

Though Jepsen returns at a lower volume than ever before, The Loneliest Time still offers pop gems; the opener, “Surrender My Heart” sees a moment of apprehension amidst a beat that could feel at home on EMOTION. “I want to be brave enough to show you / My not-so-perfect family”, she says. “Talking to Yourself”, too, is one of Jepsen’s best bangers, a brutal exploration of how an ex is unable to get her out of their head. “Are you thinkin' of me when you're with somebody else? / Do you talk to me when you're talkin' to yourself?” she asks, knowing full well the answer.

The album’s only real mishap is the lack of sonic cohesion between energizing jams and moments of quiet clarity, but each song is able to hold its own as a solid pop offering. After three albums filled to the brim with joyful, explosive pop, Jepsen finds her strength in stillness on The Loneliest Time.

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