Here it is: “Warm Blood.” Say what you want about the first four E•MO•TION singles, but Carly Rae Jepsen’s latest is indisputable, unfuckwithable pop genius. On my first run-through of the album — which was only a little over a month ago, something that’s insane to think about compared to how many times I’ve played it since — this was my first obsession. It wouldn’t be my last from this album but, from the second this track started up, it hit me that CRJ had made the best pop album of the year. As Chris so astutely put it a little while ago, she pulled off the ’80s-aping album that Taylor Swift wishes she had made with 1989. (No shade to that record, though, which is great in a lot of other ways.)
Produced and co-written by Vampire Weekend’s Rostam Batmanglij, this monster hits the ground running without breaking a sweat. That beat? It basically matches the BPM of blood pumping through your veins. (Seriously, test it out: Put your wrists up against your laptop with this blasting out of the speakers, and then promptly switch over to some real headphones, because this is immaculately produced.) That scratchy voice is result of Jepsen vaping too much during recording sessions. And those down-shifted vocals before the bridge are straight out of house music’s playbook. She’s serving up some woozy, late-night-drive vibes here — that melted disco ball on the single artwork is no joke.
Throughout her new album, Jepsen sounds like she’s caught in a constant battle between her head and her heart. Here, she gives herself over to the physical side of things completely. She’s beyond the point of rationalization, and wants to be truly, openly honest with the person she’s falling for: “I’ve got a cavern of secrets/ None of them are for you,” Jepsen crackles on the opening line. “Even if you wanted to keep them, where would you find the room?” Lost in the headrush, “Warm Blood” has the feeling of weightlessness that comes with something new, and none of the hesitation from the bad experiences that hold you back. Those will, of course, come in time, but for these four minutes Jepsen lets all of that sink away. “I saw myself tonight, caught my reflection in the mirror/ My hands and heart were tied, but I was scared of almost nothing at all.” Not naïve, just hopeful. She’s ready to be in the throes of love against her better judgement.
There’s a sense that pretty much every song on E•MO•TION is a form of wish fulfillment. Jepsen will never be the Cool Girl or the It Girl, which is, I think, where some of the criticism that’s lobbed at her stems from. Instead, she acts out these situations with a fairytale-like charm. You almost get the feeling that she’s having an internal monologue with herself, thinking of things she should have said or moves she wants to make or feelings she wishes she felt. Jepsen is living vicariously through her music and, in turn, we’re living vicariously through her. In that way, it’s a dream of a dream of someone else’s reality.
“Warm Blood” does all of this, and it’s arguably the best track on E•MO•TION, if only there weren’t eight or nine other contenders. Listen below.
E•MO•TION is out in the U.S. on 8/21 via Schoolboy Records/Interscope.