Carly Rae Jepsen – “Warm Blood” (Singles Going Steady)

Carly Rae's forthcoming Emotion is the pop album of the year so far, the very evocation of late '80s era pop music that Taylor Swift's 1989 failed to pull off.

Carly Rae’s forthcoming Emotion is the pop album of the year so far, the very evocation of late ’80s era pop music that Taylor Swift’s 1989 failed to pull off. What sets it apart from so much vapid music that did come out of the late ’80s is that underneath the high gloss lurks a slight sense of darkness, of gravitas in the thrumming synth arrangement by producer Rostam Batmanglij (yeah, the Vampire Weekend guy). But like the rest of the record it’s all about Jepsen’s immensely likeable personality, which hints at sadness early on but evokes such kindness the more it goes on. It’s one thing for a starlet to sound sexy, but it’s so rare to hear genuine compassion and sincerity. It’s one of 12 perfect or near-perfect single-worthy songs on a glorious record. ADRIEN BEGRAND [9/10]

The first four songs that Jepsen released from her upcoming album E.MO.TION have been the standard fare for her ‘80s-influenced (and perhaps Taylor Swift-wannabe) pop mélange. “Warm Blood”, however, introduces something altogether different. Produced and co-written by Vampire Weekend’s Rostam Batmanglij, the song is apparently one of Jepsen’s personal favorites from the album, and it easily has become mine as well. Over a midtempo beat that is sopping with a molasses-like thickness, Jepsen sugars in coy falsettos that are reminiscent of Lykke Li’s early stylings. Showing her vocal versatility, Jepsen also draws her whispery lower register out of the veins of the pulsating synths. The heavy swing of the drum machine after the first chorus, as well as the downshifted vocal modulation, add an intoxicating house music element to the song’s building shimmers. Overall, I have to echo Jepsen’s opening line for the chorus: “Warm Blood” feels good. — ETHAN KING [8/10]

Carly Rae’s high echo-laden vocals make it impossible to make out what she’s saying, but at one point, maybe the third or fourth lines of the song, I swear she sings, “Even if you wanted a pizza / Where would you find the room?” I hope that’s what she’s saying. I really do. It would fit the song’s overall theme of the importance of cardiovascular health, fatty foods such as pizza of course being a common cause of atherosclerosis. Further to this, the line “My hands and heart were tight” is clearly a warning about two of the most common signs of impending heart attack. Note: Listeners displaying these symptoms should seek immediate medical assistance. I may have misheard all these lyrics, but we’ll never really know. The chorus however is definitely a celebration of rude arterial and haematological health: “Warm blood, underneath my skin / Warm blood, my heart is pumping.” It certainly is, and good for you, Carly Rae. The public-spirited message of “Warm Blood” makes amends for the hackneyed production, and the general feeling of utter emptiness which listening to the song leaves behind. — PAUL DUFFUS [3/10]

This is the most sonically interesting of Carly Rae Jepsen’s singles off of E•MO•TION so far. It’s like a lite FM analogue of Sky Ferreira or Johnny Jewel. Production chops by Rostam Batmanglij of Vampire Weekend are like a Switched on Tremolo for beginners, but the subtle variegations keep the track both lively and chilled. This is not the ecstasy of love, but rather the commonality of its transference, its biomechanical root through the blood stream that doesn’t alter existence but syncopates it. Not sure what to the make of the lyrics, co-written by Batmanglij. There’s a hint of abuse in the line about the boy who lifts her up and then catches her when falling, as if the build itself is a vie for dependency. The song finds Jepsen begging for this fundamentally skewered gendered disposition. Though she sounds utterly sedate, she “can’t control” herself and begs her boy/bae to “stop me there, but I keep on talking.” It’s not clear what she’d be surrendering by “throwing in the towel” for him, but we’re about a hop, skip, and a jump away from a 2010s pop Little Mermaid (maybe a Sofia Copolla commission?). I’m sure all those who protested Kanye’s appearance at Glastonbury will be burning their Vampire Weekend LPs come summer’s end. The affect is flat enough that you can ignore all that sticky context though and enjoy chillwave’s gentle drift into the mainstream. Or maybe you can’t. It’s 2015; do you want chillwave or do you want the truth? — TIMOTHY GABRIELE [6/10]

I can appreciate that Carly is attempting to shed bits and pieces of her teen pop image, but her attempt to be a second-rate CHVRCHES comes across at trillionth-rate at best. This song is fucked. — JONATHAN FRAHM [1/10]