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Review: emails I can't send: fwd
by Aaron Scibelli

From Disney Channel star to full blown pop star, Sabrina Carpenter has been making a name for herself for upwards of 9 years at this point. From young themes of innocence and growing up staining her first few albums, and her most recent ones not exactly making an impression in the music world, her fifth studio album “emails i can’t send” has established her place as someone who can bang out albums with both repeat value and longevity. Though emails aren’t so common for Gen Z to communicate with each other (at least casually), “dms i can’t send” doesn’t have the same ring.

The album begins with the title track, a rambly song that reads exactly like a middle of the night, confused, rage filled email. With no real structure to the song, it embraces its title as an email that would never be sent, and launches the rest of the album into letters-to-burn territory.


The next three tracks alternate between hatred and confusion with “Vicious”, “Read your Mind”, and “Tornado Warnings” all melodically expressing mixed signals from someone else. Though musically different, the three songs’ perfect balance of sincerity, anger, and honesty leave you wanting more. These segway into internet favorite “because i liked a boy”, an eloquent statement on how the internet scrutinizes celebrities involved in messy relationships, disproportionately more than they do to ordinary people (if you know, you know).


“Already Over” and “how many things” represent the “chiller” part of the album, with the themes of these reflective tracks being thrown out once “bet u wanna” approaches. “Nonsense” and “Fast Times” follow, Carpenter seemingly singing about a new love this time. Though the two of these songs are different in theme, they have one thing in common: you’ll be hard pressed to get them out of your head once you’ve listened.


“skinny dipping” was the lead single for the album, originally released in September of 2021. Similar to the titular track, the song follows a loose structure featuring bits of Carpenter’s inner dialogue. The verses may not be everyone’s cup of tea, but the objectively catchy chorus and hopeful ambience make it a hard song to not enjoy.


“Bad for Business” is a superficial love song, and, while catchy, gets repetitive after the first or second time. Closing out some serviceable filler, “decode” closes out the main 13 tracks strongly. Backed by a pulchritudinous piano melody and rounded out with a symphonic violin riff, the track perfectly illustrates Carpenter’s deletion of the aforementioned emails, singing “there’s nothing left here to decode”.


With a recent uprise of “Nonsense” due to its Tik Tok virality as well as the second leg of her “emails i can’t send tour” beginning, Carpenter saw a perfect opportunity to capitalize on the album’s popularity and release a deluxe edition. Titled “emails i can’t send: fwd”, the edition features four new songs. “opposite” starts out these four tracks strongly, with it’s contemplative rawness concerting with aching lyrics to deliver a standout song. 


Both “feather” and “lonesome” carry themselves with an air of good riddance, in different ways. Feather’s upbeat vibe and carefree lyrics produce what can only be described as pop perfection, and lonesome’s moody tone switches up the pace fittingly. “things i wish you said” closes the album in the same way it began, an emotionally driven letter to burn. Though not as great of a closer as “decode”, the ballad evenly closes out the deluxe tracks.


Overall, “emails i can’t send: fwd” is a fantastic album. While not every song is a standout, the weak spots only strengthen the highlights. The production equilibrates familiarity with distinction, and the lyrics as a whole support the material well. The songs also make sense in the context of the “emails i can’t send” theme or out of context on their own, meaning the likelihood of the album aging poorly is low. An excellent project from an experienced artist, if Carpenter can continue to produce albums to the same quality of “emails i can’t send: fwd”, she has a long and successful rest of her career ahead of her.

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