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Carly Rae Jepsen Dances Her Way Through Heartbreak on ‘The Loneliest Time’

The latest album from the Canadian pop goddess delivers high-gloss pop with serious emotional punch

Carly Rae Jepsen is one of the most exquisite joys of being a pop fan over the past decade. The Canadian pop goddess is one of our most underrated treasures—ten years after the world fell in love with this girl in “Call Me Maybe,” she still hasn’t made a single weak record or failed move. The Loneliest Time is her most emotionally adventurous music yet—high-gloss post-bubblegum synth-pop that packs a serious punch even at its fizziest. Carly Rae just keeps dancing her way through the heartbreak, a totally relatable adult romantic with too many feelings but zero illusions. 

The Loneliest Time has the shiny electro-perk sheen of her 2015 classic Emotion, but more of the melancholy of 2019’s Dedicated. By now, she’s over every brand of bullshit, with hilariously blasé song titles like “Go Find Yourself or Whatever” and “No Thinking Over the Weekend.” These are the songs of a woman who’s been through some drama, but refuses to give up on the brighter days and hotter nights she deserves.

Jepsen had a miserable time during the pandemic, and she’s not the type of celebrity to lie about that. She lost her beloved grandmother, the woman who first taught her the joys of wearing feather boas; travel restrictions meant she couldn’t travel to grieve with her family. So even the most delightfully frivolous pop kicks here feel powerfully cathartic.

“Beach House” is a deliciously nasty tour of serial monogamy in the era of dating-app addiction. She scrolls from one worthless boy to another: the one whose mom fixed the mood for their date, the one who begs to borrow money, the one who wants to harvest her organs. She trips from Boy Number One to “Boy Number I Can’t Even Count Anymore.” 

She goes looking for romance out west, in the mellow California dreaming of “Joshua Tree” and “Western Wind.” She also hits the clubs, looking for emotional rescue in the dance-floor lust of “Bad Thing Twice.” The peak moment: “Shooting Star,” a Chic-style roller-disco groove where she chirps, “I might sleep with you tonight… Just because I still believe in my New York City!” It climaxes in her vocoder confessions at the end, where she blows all her fears away, bubbling over with excitement as she chants, “Do you wanna? Do you wanna?”

She duets with Rufus Wainwright in “The Loneliest Time,” where she sings about feeling like she’s in a Shakespeare tragedy. She also gets hung up on a fickle lover in “Go Find Yourself or Whatever,” over moody sitar-style guitar from collaborator Rostam Batmanglij. But for all the broken romances on The Loneliest Time, it’s an uplifting experience. Carly Rae Jepsen might have endured a couple too many sad girl summers lately. But she’s determined to throw herself a hell of a hot girl autumn.

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