I can still remember when I was first introduced to Carly Rae Jepsen and her music.
It was back in 2012. I was scrolling through my Tumblr dashboard when I stumbled upon that single of hers — you know, the infectious summer bop that was Call Me Maybe— and I didn’t like it.
Before I get excommunicated from the fandom — the Iglesia Ni Carly, as it’s known in Filipino stan parlance — let me explain.
I was just starting to really get into pop music at that time, but for some reason, Jepsen’s nigh-desperate plea for affection was too twee, too saccharine for my then-terribly underdeveloped musical sensibilities. While I did keep on hearing good things about the Canadian-born artist, it wasn’t until years later, when I got hold of her solid, banger-filled LP “E•MO•TION,” that I started paying more attention to her and her unique brand of fresh and unabashedly pop music — and by that time, I loved it.
Her songs soon found their way to my playlists. Before I knew it, her music had become part of my life’s ever-expanding soundtrack: Run Away With Me, Warm Blood, and Favourite Colour were all dedicated to a boy I fell in love with, while Your Type served as the perfect backing track for when that relationship reached its bittersweet, if premature, end.
“I once spent a Saturday night drunkenly crying and screaming the words to Tonight I’m Getting Over You at a cramped, queer dance club in Cubao with my friends.”
In hindsight, I realized I really should have seen it coming. After all, Carly Rae Jepsen, much like fellow gay club icon and pop superstar Robyn of dancefloor classic Dancing On My Own fame, has always been big about taking people to the feeling, about diving deep into one’s emotions and not shying away from expressing them.
This has become more and more prominent in her later releases: Jepsen’s 2016 EP “E•MO•TION Side B” — an eight-track collection of songs cut from the original album — is filled with catchy hooks and introspective lyrics about desire and sadness; her synth-powered 2017 single Cut To The Feelingis explosive and assertive with its message about wanting to cut through clouds, break through ceilings, play with angels, and wake up all in tangles with a lover.
Simply put, Jepsen’s songs not only highlight one’s Feels™, they also let you to disappear in them completely, making her music the perfect channel for catharsis and emotional release. Case in point: I once spent a Saturday night drunkenly crying and screaming the words to Tonight I’m Getting Over Youat a cramped, queer dance club in Cubao with my friends.
Jepsen’s latest release, the double single Now That I Found You / No Drug Like Me, continues her discography’s overarching theme of freeing oneself by getting in touch with one’s emotions — and it is quite the ride.
Produced in collaboration with the production trio Captain Cuts, as well as producer John Hill, and composer Jordan Palmer, Now That I Found You / No Drug Like Me is more than just a teaser for her upcoming 4th LP, it’s also a testament to Jepsen’s musical maturity: its sound, a spiffy blend of experimental, dance floor-ready beats and lyrics perfectly engineered for singalongs.
The Captain Cuts-produced track Now That I Found You for instance, is a pop banger showing Jepsen at her peak, with its lyrics — “Don’t give it up / Don’t say it hurts / ‘Cause there’s nothin’ like this feeling / Now that I found you” — melding together with lush ’80s-inspired beats to form a joyously unrestrained pop jam celebrating the thrill and rush of finding a new love.
No Drug Like Me is more slowed-down in its production, with Jepsen’s sultry lyrics about desire and how she’s unlike every other high her lover has tried, fusing beautifully with the finger snaps and throbbing beats from John Hill and Jordan Palmer who previously produced tracks for pop acts Florence Welch, Charli XCX, and Walk The Moon.
The third and final track in the release, Party For One, also deals with love — albeit one that’s different from the ones highlighted by the previous tracks. Dealing thematically with heartbreak and self-love, Party For Oneis best described as a spiritual sequel of sorts to the cry-dance anthems Your Typeand Dancing On My Own, with its narrator finding the strength to go and dance for herself despite her sadness and heartbreak.
“Now That I Found You / No Drug Like Me” is in many ways the perfect distillation of Carly Slay Jepsen’s musical sensibilities, and if we are to base our expectations for her upcoming studio album on this, then we’re going to be in for quite the ride. After all, it’s Carly we’re talking about here, and she’s more than back on her beat.