With 'emails i can't send', Sabrina delivers the most polished, thoughtful and creative album of her career.
With emails i can’t send, American actress-turned-popstar Sabrina Carpenter finally released her fifth album, and she reflects in thirteen tracks on a turbulent, messy and unprecedented period in her life. It’s a truthful and vulnerable account of horrific events and is sure to land her back in the favour of the public.
The day this album was released, one of my best friends texted me “Hey, someone I know has just gone through a horrific breakup, is there something on this album that can help her?” At first, I didn’t;t think I could find anything, but as I looked further I realised this incredible album was also so universal that it wasn’t hard to recommend songs It is this artistry of Sabrina’s that shines through and that I want to highlight.
We start with the title track; a song she played on Instagram Reels over a year ago as an “intro” to the album era. It’s a ballad about betrayal within her family and sets the tone for the rest of the tracks. It then ascends into Vicious, which I spoke about in length when it came out. The duality of these tracks really allows the listener to not only understand what’s about to be discussed but hear the different paths and directions they’re about to be taken.
Read your Mind and Tornado Warnings begin the long trail thereafter of brand new songs. The former explores the complexity of an almost one-sided relationship where Sabrina explains herself to be putting more effort in and struggling to understand her partner’s intentions, while the latter is a song in which you can hear frequent collaborator and fellow popstar JP Saxe’s influence very strongly in, and as he collaborated on 7 out of 13 tracks, this is not a surprise. It’s a track that makes me laugh because you can genuinely hear Sabrina’s sense of humour… she’s “lying to her therapist” that she hasn’t kept going back to her ex, but fails; a relatable experience that when you’re told not to do something – you specifically go and do it. Sonically both of these songs boast Sabrina’s quiet confidence in herself and this confidence is then pumped to the max in “because I liked a boy”
This was probably the most controversial song within the fandom before its release, people had heard mumblings about some of the lyrics and were condemning Sabrina for releasing it. However, I think this quickly changed after the release as sympathy and empathy poured from fans as the brutal truth of the events of the first half of 2021 came to light, in an extremely confident whilst also emotional way.
Already Over and Nonsense are my clear standouts. Both of these songs have a fun upbeat tempo and are experimental in style. Already Over goes back to Sabrina’s roots in covering country songs… something fans still joke about now. It speaks about how closure can be so hard in a relationship that ended messily or with very few loose ends tied up. Nonsense, on the other hand, is the only completely lovesick song on the album, and fans speculate that it may be the next single. It is a collection of funny phrases and words about being in love, is completely nonsensical in order and style but truly embodies the early days of new love, not to mention having the funniest lyrics in the album in the last few lines.
Between those two songs comes how many things and bet u wanna – the definition of juxtaposition. how many things is the heartbreak ballad and is the other song that just oozes both Carpenter’s humour and Saxe’s lyrical style. You’d be forgiven for thinking it was going to be a sarcastic song after the first two lines “You used a fork once / It turns out forks are f*cking everywhere”. However, it then descends into a classic JP Saxe style writing of detailed aspects of heartbreak and lamenting on mistakes. Then bet u wanna draws you into Singular-era Sabrina confidence describing heartbreak in a very different way, “It’s cold out there / Let me know what you found // Bet you wanna love me now”. Sonically and lyrically it’s so reminiscent on the two final tracks on Sabrina’s last albums but with fresher feelings and closeness to the audience that doesn’t feel as airy-fairy as before.
The two previous singles follow, and though I’ve reviewed Fast Times, we’ve not spoken about skinny dipping. It was the freeing opening single to the era and truly set the mood for the ‘getting over heartbreak’ era that this album was set to be.
Bad for Business and decode conclude the album. Bad for Business was the long-anticipated song, teased via an Easter egg in the Skin music video in 2021. It is a song about knowing your love is true but that it reflects badly on your career and business, and to me summarises the duality of all the feelings Sabrina has just explored in 11 tracks. It flows beautifully into decode, the epiphany moment when Sabrina is finally over the heartbreak, with “nothing left here to decode”. It came personally for me at a time I needed a song like that and so is very special, and ends the album beautifully.
All in all, this album is so worth listening to and it truly is a piece of art in itself. Boasting incredible songwriting credits and a variety of music genres in just half an hour, it’s going to have something for everyone.
emails i can’t send is out now via Island Records, and you can check out the music video for because I liked a boy here (via Radiance Pictures/Island Records)