Many years, and many great albums have passed since Carly Rae Jepsen first took the world by storm. The singer-songwriter hit the stratosphere in 2012 with mega-hit Call Me Maybe, and since then has diversified her sound. Her last full-length effort, 2019’s Dedicated, was a confident mix of 80s nostalgia, new wave funk, and meaningful lyricism that showed Jepsen had fully matured from the early 2010’s bubblegum pop of her smash hit. Ten years later, The Loneliest Time has emerged.
Opener Surrender My Heart begins with that same 80s flavour of her previous work. The song glimmers with hints of Fleetwood Mac in its arpeggiated synths and ambient soundscapes, before the chorus punches through, opening up the soundscape. Jepsen’s vocals are instantly recognisable, gliding over the tune. It’s a great start, setting up the sound of the album in a glorious way, and leading into followup Joshua Tree with a spring in its step. It’s smooth bass and compressed guitar licks call back to her previous work, and that of her contemporaries. Jepsen’s lyrics reflect the loneliness that the album’s title insinuates, speaking of ‘driving miles away, just to feel alone’.
Talking To Yourself is a perfect pop mixture, serving up a catchy chorus, deep bass, and danceable rhyme. This track and later song Sideways share a summery feel that bring to mind the latest Calvin Harris record. Both songs sway you from side to side, unapologetically bouncy. Bends takes an ambient turn, using drum machines and airy synths to create an uncomfortable atmosphere, one that builds to a somewhat hopeful conclusion. The album highlight, however, is title track The Loneliest Time. Featuring none other that Rufus Wainwright, the divine duet feels lavish, with sweet harmonies, and call and response passages that call back 70s classics like Private Number. Lyrically, it also brings the album full circle, talking of remembering the person you’ve lost, but longing to go back to the way things were.
The Loneliest Time sees Carly Rae Jepsen on fine form, but settling in rather than pushing boundaries. As far as her music is concerned, however, this isn’t a negative observation. The album oozes with interesting lyricism, and intriguing musical ideas, all compiled within a coherent collection. For anyone that knows Jepsen only as the person behind Call Me Maybe, this is a late, but good introduction to what people have been missing out on.
Writer and Musician, Ryan Bulbeck has been published with a number of online publications, and has worked with a myriad of great artists, both as a performer, and as a producer. His most recent band The 295 are still active, playing shows around the UK.