As a long-time Carly Rae Jepsen lover, I have been eagerly awaiting new music since her last project, 2019’s Dedicated and the accompanying Dedicated Side B (2020). While Jepsen’s sixth studio album, The Loneliest Time, certainly doesn’t disappoint, it doesn’t quite knock your socks off either. Released on Oct. 21, the album sees this self-professed ambassador of love expand into slightly more reflective territory. Over 13 songs, she scratches the surface of cynicism, insecurity, and loneliness without ever fully abandoning her starry-eyed perspective.
Sonically, The Loneliest Time straddles a similar divide. A handful of songs flirt with a more mellow, vocals-focused sound, but the lion’s share of the tracklist keeps a tight hold on her signature 80s synth-pop melodies. The result? A fun, albeit fairly incohesive, album that will keep you moving and grooving without much too contemplation of its overall message. Despite its title purporting to be about loneliness, most of the tunes only dive into darker themes for a line or two before resurfacing to take on more light-hearted fare.
The album’s more laid-back tracks benefit greatly from the skillful production of former Vampire Weekend band member Rostam Batmanglij. The lead single “Western Wind” is as breezy and laidback as its title suggests, and the ballad “Go Find Yourself or Whatever” uses soft, moody strings to underscore Jepsen’s resentful but ever-hopeful lyrics.
In terms of its pure pop songs, The Loneliest Time is at its best when Jepsen revisits the shimmering synths that made 2015’s E●MO●TION a critical darling and fan favourite. Opening track “Surrender My Heart” and single “Talking to Myself” are pristine pop songs that feel like they have an instant place amongst her catalogue of dance-worthy beats. “Shooting Star,” on the other hand, presents a grating disco-pop track with lyrics as forgettable as its melody.
Altogether, The Loneliest Time makes for a fun listen with some delightful highlights, but don’t expect much in terms of surprises—most of the themes tackled are nothing new for Jepsen. Indeed, the Canadian pop star has made a career out of creating soundtracks for her and her audiences’ lovestruck fantasies and blissful first kisses. Amidst her discography of hopeless romantic bubblegum pop, The Loneliest Time fits in perfectly.
Rating: 3.5/5 stars
The Loneliest Time is available now on all streaming platforms. Carly Rae Jepsen is continuing the North American leg of her ‘So Nice Tour’ until November 2022.