Review: Sabrina Carpenter – ‘Fast Times’

A perfect cadence

Sabrina Carpenter returns with a truly thrilling, fast paced single, sure to be bumping around your brain for weeks.

  • Lyricism
  • Production
  • Melodies
  • Accompanying videos
  • Storytelling ability

2021 saw a dramatic flip in the narrative for actress, singer-songwriter and producer Sabrina Carpenter as she was thrust to the centre of a horrible love triangle narrative. In ‘Fast Times’, she shows her recovery from what to anyone else would have been a career- destroying year. She vows to live in the present, taking everything she experiences in her stride – however fast it comes at her. 

‘Fast Times’ tells a story of navigating your early twenties. At only 22, Carpenter  has been through every emotion and experience under the sun, and she comes from a place of reflection and honesty in this fast paced thrill-ride. While the song itself details the fast paced-ness of a relationship, it can be used as metaphor for the past few years of Carpenter’s life.

Since releasing her fourth album in 2019, Singular Act II, Carpenter was thrust into acting job after acting job, juggling new and old friendships and two relationships. She made her Broadway debut on Tina Fey‘s hit musical Mean Girls two nights before the entirety of Broadway was shut as a result of the COVID-19 restrictions, and 2020 saw the release of three films she led the cast on: Work It, The Short History of the Long Road, and Clouds.  Undoubtedly the past year for Carpenter has been the most fluctuating, as she was villainised at the centre of a fan-derived narrative around her rumoured partner at the time, Joshua Bassett, and Olivia Rodrigo. Therefore, it seems only fair that ‘Fast Times’ draws on this period of her life.

Co-written with her self-proclaimed ‘parents’ – songwriting veterans Julia Michaels and JP Saxe, and producing legend John Ryan – the song boasts a unique lyrical style as well as unexpected production choices around every turn. Melody and production wise, the song is genuinely flawless. It’s a drastic change from previous releases under former record label Hollywood Records; ‘Fast Times’ is definitely a more mature sounding production and shows a lot of promise for the upcoming album.

Unfortunately, the songs (albeit very small) weakness is its chorus lyrics. On the whole, the ingenuity of its lyrics comes through brilliantly, as Carpenter is able to tell a beautiful, relatable story. However, the chorus can feel repetitive. This would be okay for many other artists, the natural structure of a song being three identical choruses, but with those kind of credits on the song one would expect some change and complexity within the second and third chorus. The verses, however, bring words to the song that I never thought could fit into a melody; rhyming “serrated” with “perfect cadence” seamlessly, as well as “congregatin'” and “daylight savings”. Regardless of any lyrical hiccups, the way that the production develops and progresses throughout the song more than makes up for the small hitch in the chorus’ repetitive lyrics.

The music video for the single is essentially a flawless three minute mini-film. I genuinely could not picture the story being told any other way, and it is genius the way that is starts off where Carpenter’s previous music video ‘Skinny Dipping’ ends.

There have been many a Twitter theory about the storyline of the ‘Fast Times’ video and its relation to Carpenter’s love for Easter eggs regarding her next album. The ‘Skinny Dipping’ music video depicts a disguised Sabrina at the start, fighting off dark-clothed villains for the possession of a yellow briefcase, which Carpenter goes on to win. As she progresses into the second chorus, Carpenter is in a car repair shop back in her non-disguised form when these villains break in to reclaim the suitcase. The video ends with Sabrina being caught, but another version of her navigating laser beams and hi-tech security to reclaim the briefcase, opening it up as the final frame of the video. While the contents of the case are unknown, the rumours of the album name, art and release date being within it are rife on social media. All in all, the visuals throughout the  video are perfect and make for a genuinely brilliant viewing experience.

Overall, I have little to no complaints about Carpenter’s latest release; it feels like the perfect next step for an artist the music industry has overlooked for too long. This era is sure to land her back into everyone’s good books and on the charts once again.

‘Fast Times’ is out now, via Polydor Records/Island Records. Watch the video below:


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Third Year history student - Deputy Editor and Live Editor

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