In an ironic twist of fate, Carly Rae Jepsen released a compilation of B Sides from her 2015 hit album Emotion on the same day Britney Spears released her new album, Glory. The two albums could not be more different: one a mish-mosh from the cutting room floor of one of the most highly acclaimed pop albums of 2015 and the other the summation of over a year’s worth of recording yet the two album’s are connected by a single release date.
Despite only four years in age difference between the pop divas, their careers have been very different. Spears, an international superstar since she was 18 has been through many public trials and tribulations and Jepsen not achieving success until her mid-20s. The result is that it feels like when Spears releases an album it is comeback attempt from an aging pop star while Jepsen still feels fresh and new. Those optics might be part of what makes Glory feel like a bit of a mess while the EP pieced together from scraps on the cutting room floor feels so cohesive and polished.
Emotion: Side B picks up right where the original album left off. “First Time,” already a hit in Japan, finally gets a State-side release. With its 80s synth-funk vibes, the track is a day-glo party starter. “First Time” almost seems to make more sense in the context of Emotion than some of the bonus track’s that got thrown on the deluxe edition like “Favourite Colorur.” Perhaps too many “I Really Like You”-type jams did not fit the mold the record company was going for.
The high point of Emotion: Side B is “Higher.” Penned by Geggy Tah and The Bird and the Bee member, Greg Kurstin, the track’s sexy vintage synth-pop sound is reminiscent of Ariel Pink or Toro Y Moi. The song was co-written by Claude Kelly who coincidentally has worked with Britney Spears on several occasions.
While it is easy to praise Jepsen while lambasting Spears’ latest effort, everything is not a hit on Side B. Besides being an incredibly catchy song, “Store” is one of the most inane tracks Jepsen has recorded. With a repetitive chorus of “I’m just goin’ to the store, to the store/I’m just goin’ to the store/You might not see me anymore, anymore/I’m just goin’ to the store,” the track feels like its written from the perspective of the father in the classic trope of “he went to buy milk and never came home.”
For as poorly lyricised as “Store” is, it still is not a HORRIBLE song but it is the worst on Emotion: Side B. For an album made up of cut tracks, that is pretty impressive. It is equally impressive that nearly any track on the album could go up against any a-side from Spears’ Glory. Forever tied by a release date, Glory probably should have waited a week; clearly, there is a new princess of pop in town.