Album Review: Carly Rae Jepsen's Emotion Side B

How do you follow the best pop record of 2015? For Carly Rae Jepsen, the answer is release the best collection of B-sides possible. In fact, Emotion Side B plays well in its own right as a short album brimming with catchy hooks, crisp production, and 80s nostalgia. Opener "First Time" has a backing track similar to Gloria Estefan's "Get on Your Feet." "Higher" and "The One" thunder with drum machines and bravado.  "Fever" may be the best track here, built as a wall of dance beats and longing that captures late-summer melancholy. (It doesn't hurt that the lyrics "so I rode your bike to your house last night, and I'm so damn scared because your car's not there" recalls Strangers Things--another master work of 80s nostalgia). The second half of Side B is crisp and clean, if not quite as gripping--but even a slightly lower bar for Jepsen is masterful. While "Body Language" is fun and "Cry" plays with melodrama, I prefer the quirky Dear-John-letter "Store;" it's one of those weird lyrical ideas that shows Jepsen's odd side, and I adore those moments on her records. (I mean, read the lyrics for "I Really Like You" sometime and tell me it doesn't sound like a bubble-gum slasher film.) "Roses" also works as a closer, discussing the end of a relationship and the end of a creative period for the pop star. It's a gift to have more tracks from this era, and these tunes make me excited to see where she goes next too.

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