Music

Sabrina Carpenter’s Brand-New Pop Masterpiece: A Review of ‘Singular Act I’

At the age of only 19, Sabrina Carpenter has just released her third studio album, Singular Act I. Sabrina rose to fame playing Maya Hart on the hit Disney Channel TV show, Girl Meets World. She released her debut album, Eyes Wide Open, in 2015 when she was 16 and still working on Girl Meets WorldEWO had a very acoustic sound and was clearly aimed at her then young fans. In her second album EVOLution (2016), Sabrina used production in a much more effective way, discussed more mature themes and showed her growth as a songwriter. She toured North America on her first headline tour in 2016 and supported The Vamps on their tour of the UK in 2017.

Sabrina released the trailer for Singular in June 2018, in which she announced that the album would be released in the winter of 2018. She announced the release date for her album in a very creative way: at the end of an incredibly messy performance of “Almost Love” on The Late Late Show with James Corden in October, she spray-painted “11/9” on the wall of her set! So, let’s get into the album…

“Almost Love” (7.5/10)

The lead single of this album is a great start to the album. Sabrina released the song on June 5th. From this track, you get an idea of the direction Sabrina is going, production-wise and lyrically, with this album. She said in an interview with Zach Sang that this song is about the other half of a relationship not putting in enough time or effort to make the relationship last, which is a theme that appears on a few other songs on the album. “Almost Love” has a great bass-line and some brilliant production choices. The bridge is possibly the best part of this track as they strip away the bass-line and Sabrina sings a little softer. It makes Sabrina’s belt in the last chorus of the song that much more impressive.

This is currently the only song on the album that has a music video and, my word, what a music video it is! Sabrina shows off her fantastic dance skills and turns a man to stone when she kisses him! This song is a bop and a half that will have you dancing and singing along before you know it.

“Paris” (8.5/10)

By only looking at the title of the second single from Singular Act I, you may think this is yet another cliché song about finding love in Paris. But you would be very wrong, as it is actually quite the opposite. The track starts with Sabrina singing “He’d treat me nice, he’d treat me right, he’d treat me good/Still I get so hesitant, still I get so hesitant” over a gorgeous guitar riff. These two lines imply that she likes this man a lot, but is unsure of whether she could love him. So she goes to Paris, looking for love, but she soon realises that she “already has love in LA.”

In the second verse, she comes to a resolution that she won’t look past this guy in Los Angeles anymore. In the second half of the verse, Sabrina transitions to her beautiful head voice (higher register). The bridge on this track is something special too as Sabrina sings/says most of it in French, which makes the song so much more romantic. The backing vocals on the final chorus are amazing. This is such a romantic song that it has left many fans wondering who it’s about. I really like how the produced backing track only comes after 25 seconds of the song and I love how the structure of the first verse is mirrored in the second! The visualiser video is very simple but it nicely sets the scene for the song.

“Hold Tight (feat. Uhmeer)” (7.7/10)

The third track on this album shows that Sabrina Carpenter is now an adult. There are many sexual references in this track, some are less subtle than others. Perhaps the most suggestive lyric comes in the chorus: “I like where my hands is, I just wanna hold tight”. I don’t like rap music very much, but Uhmeer’s rap verse is slow enough and clear enough that you can easily understand what he’s saying. The production of this song is one of the best on the album as Mike Sabbath has played with Sabrina’s vocals in a good way and made a killer backing track! The English nerd in me doesn’t like this song because of the repeated verb and subject disagreement in “hands is,” but the bad girl in me loves it!

“Sue Me” (9.5/10)

This song starts a theme of empowerment that is continued in the rest of the album. This song resonates so strongly with me and probably every other girl who’s listened to it because there is so much truth in it. “Sue Me” is directed at one of Sabrina’s exes; in the chorus, she lets out all her frustrations at him by singing “So sue me for looking too pretty tonight/Wearing your favourite color under the lights/For moving on, doing everything right.” Some guys seem to think that after they’ve broken up with a girl, that girl cannot go out looking nice and, of course, the girl can’t move on before them. Sabrina mentions another thing that some guys think: “sue me for being good friends with your friends.”

Sabrina’s vocals are incredible on this track, possibly the best on the album! The bass-line and ad-libs on this track are pleasing to the ear, but they are nothing compared to the empowering lyrics that make this track my second favourite on the album. Whoever this song is directed at, they must now be regretting saying some stupid things to Sabrina Carpenter.

“prfct” (8.5/10)

You may be wondering if my e-key broke when I was typing the title of the fifth track on Singular Act I, but no, “prfct” is the actual name of the song and there’s a reason that perfect is written imperfectly. The song talks about not needing everything in a relationship to be perfect for it to work. The entire chorus is very impactful and cleverly worded, but my favourite part is: “for all the nights, tears running down my face/Messing up my mascara/It’s not perfect aye, aye, aye but maybe that’s what we need”. The lyrics also touch on body image and not needing to look “perfect” all the time. It has a dream-like sound and the backing vocals are perfect on this track. Also, I love the fuzzy gramophone effect at the beginning and end of the track.

“Bad Time” (10/10)

The third single from this album is the badass anthem we have been waiting for Sabrina Carpenter to write and sing. The sexual references are much more subtle than they are in “Hold Tight”; you have to know the connotations of “good time” to understand them. The lyrics savagely target the unknown ex: my favourites are “I’m sorry, but you’ve called at a bad time/And every time is probably gonna be a bad time” and “You were sitting comfortable and I was busy kissing your floor.” However, my favourite lyric in the whole song has to be “I’m just gonna say it one more time for fun” because it adds the sense that Sabrina is enjoying her new-found indifference.

The production on this song is incredible and it really adds to the empowering message. Oscar Görres has made an uplifting track that you can dance to. As it is a single, Sabrina released a visualiser video which is mad but fun to watch.

“Mona Lisa” (6.5/10)

This song could be your new favourite crush song. Sabrina sings about wanting a guy to make a move and not leave her “hanging like the Mona Lisa.” Clocking in at a little over two minutes, this is a very short song that is sweet like candy floss. However, it is probably the least lyrically impactful song on the album. The production is not outstanding, but it does the job. This is a fun song for the middle of an album, but it doesn’t fit on this album.

“Diamonds Are Forever” (9/10)

No, it’s not a cover of the James Bond theme song. It might be a little better. It ends the album in the most empowering way possible. It is about knowing your self-worth and never selling yourself short. Sabrina compares herself to a diamond,  singing “I am a diamond, and diamonds are forever”. Other outstanding lyrics are: “Money don’t buy class, and I can’t be bought like that” and “I guess you want me to/Give up these diamonds to you”. Not only are the lyrics inspired, but the production is also too. I heard piano, strings and drums on the backing track and they are brought together so perfectly by Johan Carlsson. This song was the perfect choice for the last song on the album and I give it 9/10.

Overall Rating: 8.8/10

This album is truly a pop masterpiece that also takes from different genres. To quote Ashley Ippolito, “who gave her the right” to make such a beautiful and empowering album that’s full of bops. The production on almost all the songs is exquisite. Songwriters should get better as their life experience grows. This album covers more mature themes in a clever way. The high quality of this album means that standard that Singular Act II has to reach is even higher. I hope that the themes covered in Sabrina’s next album are different enough to make Act II worthwhile.

Listen to Singular Act I on Spotify here:

Or on other streaming services here.

Featured image via @SabrinaAnnLynn

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