Sabrina Carpenter’s newest album, emails i can’t send, waxes and wanes through the trope of a twenty-something woman in the spotlight, similar to Taylor Swift, especially of younger age, as she deeply ruminates on love and misery and company, and aggressively hits the nail on the head while doing so.
Carpenter’s “emails i can’t send” calmly and direly crescendos into a slow explosion in its 1 minute 44 second entirety. Each of her vulnerabilities slowly snowball into the other, developing quickly. There is some comedy hidden in the depths of this piece; the use of “dipshit” seems ill-fitting, perhaps, but it adds some quirk. Her skill to create such a vulnerable intro, additionally one which is so relatable to a mass sum of people (those affected by divorce), is honorable and relatable and refreshing.
“And thanks to you I, I can't love right
I get nice guys and villainize them
Read their texts like they're having sex right now
Scared I'll find out that it's true
And if I do, then I blame you for
Every worst that I assume”
speaks of her dad, who ruined her perspective of men through his affair. All this jam packed into twenty seconds. There is a failure to see this level of vulnerability in men’s music, except for some country artists, but it still doesn’t read the same and is not as multifaceted. Hopefully they will learn from Sabrina’s success and vulnerability. Divorce isn’t sung about much.
“because i liked a boy” battles the rise of fame with love and breakup.
“Now I'm a homewrecker, I'm a slut
I got death threats filling up semi-trucks”
say it all. Celebrity is not all glitz and glamor-- it is people unable to mind their own business and cast their opinions upon the private lives of people in the spotlight, unwaveringly damaging them in the process.
Her pentameter in “because i liked a boy,” among many other songs, appears to have no business matching up on paper, but she manages to cohesively flow in and out of each word and line in a luscious, velvety manner.
Her skill to insert comedy in a niche, yet relatable way is unmatched. Lines like
“You used a fork once
It turns out forks are everywhere”
in “how many things” makes you think long and hard about attachment and breakups and how devastatingly everywhere your old significant other is after they’re gone. It has become an internet joke, and she riffs off it so well. Pop culture is hidden everywhere in the entirety of “emails i can’t send.” It hasn’t been done as well as Carpenter to date without it sounding overly meme-y or comedic.
She competes with Taylor Swift, SZA, Ariana Grande, and Harry Styles, yet they are all their own entities and have their own niche.
Each song brings its own variety and sparkle. It seems like the more artsy, curated, sad songs are titled in lowercase, and the more polished and peppy in uppercase. Stylistically interesting and worth noting, as most albums and songs are either all upper or all lowercase.
“skinny dipping” is highly reminiscent of Taylor’s sing-songy transcending background vocals. The latter portion of her album is highly reminiscent of “Midnights.”
The production of songs like “Bad for Business” makes this album even more worthwhile. So aesthetically pleasing, daisy-picking, floaty and wonderful. Coupled with lyrics that have no “business” belonging with such a happy melody-- this may be part of the delusion of liking a guy she has no business liking because he does not build her up, and rather tears her down.
“Decode” lives in the same realm as “Snow On The Beach (feat. Lana Del Rey)” and “Karma,” songs classical and unfathomably and inexplicably artisanally produced.
Each song has a place on this album, whether it’s a dance party in the car (“Read your Mind”), hurting, growing, and lamenting (“emails i can’t send”), or staring at the ceiling late at night (“Bad for Business”).
The only issue this album faces is that it is overly fixated on boys/men. However, it doesn’t seem as much of a breakup album as SZA or Taylor Swift. It created its new category for music about men by women. It’s more uplifting and dance-forward, resulting in the lyrics not hitting as hard as they would with R&B, slower pop, or anything similar to those realms. This is not a negative trait and is more of a compliment than anything else.
The issue faced with women and music is their tendency to sing about heartbreak, and the trials and tribulations that surround it, lying and basking in their mourn, focusing an entire album on it. Sabrina Carpenter has room to grow in her writing; she is only 23, after all. If she recognizes this and expands her topics beyond men and what they did to her and how she feels about it, she will become even more of a force to be recognized with. She will be able to propel out of her niche and garner more of a following, as more will be able to relate. Overall, this album is a grand feat, and especially for someone of her age.
Reviewed by Catherine Spohn