If your last memory of Carly Rae Jepsen is from her 2012 hit single “Call Me Maybe,” you have a lot of catching up to do.
Since the release of her 2015 album “Emotion” Jepsen has transformed into a pop visionary, but unfortunately, her star power has not surpassed her tight circle of adoring fans. While Jepsen may not be the stadium-blockbuster pop princess that her fans wish she was, they (we) can rest easy knowing that she has been consistently putting out high-quality, uber-fun pop albums since her first hit single a decade ago.
“The Loneliest Time” is Jepsen’s fifth full-length album, following her 2019 release “Dedicated.” Her latest project has 13 tracks with an additional three bonus tracks. While the bonus tracks are fun, the main 13 are where the album truly shines.
One of the first lead singles off of this album is the fun-time banger “Beach House,” a jam about hooking up with more and more dubious men for the thrill of it, even while acknowledging the risks involved. Jepsen deals with this weighty and slightly scary topic with her usual cheekiness, toeing the line between fun and fear.
Another lead single off the album is “Talking to Yourself,” an appropriately upbeat dance-pop anthem questioning the subject’s loyalties. This certainly isn’t my favorite off of the album, but it was a good single to put forward, as it lays out the album’s general vibe and central themes of hookups and infidelity in a clean, well-produced track.
Of the lead singles, the best by far is her collaboration with Canadian singer-songwriter Rufus Wainwright, who is known for his contributions to baroque and operatic pop in the early 2000s. The title track “The Loneliest Time,” is an upbeat synth masterpiece with throwbacks to the ’80s, accompanied by Wainwright’s signature strings and soothing voice. It is only appropriate that this track was the one to go viral on TikTok—perhaps you are familiar with the line “I’m comin’ back for you, baby! I’m comin’ back for you!”
Despite Jepsen’s clear talent for dance pop, I find her slower tracks to be just as impactful, if not more so. The guitar-led ballad “Go Find Yourself or Whatever,” detailing the pain of calling off a relationship even when you know it’s the right thing to do, exhibits mature lyricism shrouded in deflective irony. “Bends,” while slightly more upbeat and synth-led, expertly lays out the feeling of longing for someone alongside poetic lyricism and amazing production by Bullion, the pseudonym of Nathan Jenkins.
Alternating between groovy, dance-y and vibey, there is not a bad song on this album. I’d especially like to shout out opener “Surrender My Heart,” simply because it is a quintessential Jepsen track. With its thickly-textured synth drums and lyrics about trying to open up to someone you love, it conjures up past hits like “I Really Like You” and “Run Away With Me” (the latter of which is, as everyone knows, the best-written song of all time).
Jepsen doesn’t stray far from her comfort zone with this album, but that’s not a bad thing. She is exactly in her wheelhouse with “The Loneliest Time,” updating her pop for a 2022 world while never missing with her lyrics, melodies and production. If you are at all a fan of Jepsen, this album is for you. And if you’re not… well, you should really get on that.