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Carly Rae Jepsen, 'Western Wind'

A Carly Rae Jepsen song always promises a few signatures: '80s-inspired synths that set off like a fireworks display; a giddy, girlish romanticism; the same reliability for getting a party going as a disco ball over a dancefloor. But on "Western Wind," Jepsen shakes the glitter of her last few albums out of her hair, ditching her studied electro-pop for "Thank You"-biting bongos on this relaxed song about finding love in the wilds of California.

"Western Wind" builds on a slightly hippie-dippie, granola trend of pop girl restraint working its way through music over the last few years — think folklore's acoustic cottagecore, Solar Power's off-the-grid optimism, the mid-'00s, Starbucks check-out CD minimalism of HAIM's jazzy 2019 single "Summer Girl" (which, as with "Western Wind," was produced by Rostam Batmanglij). This is music that turns away from the synthetic dance-pop possibilities of the Los Angeles studio for a sound better suited to catching fireflies in a jar on a balmy Friday in Big Sur (while likely mellowed out with the aid of a Cali-legal edible, of course). So lay back, chill out and embrace the vibes of a quieter CRJ era.

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Hazel Cills
Hazel Cills is an editor at NPR Music, where she edits breaking music news, reviews, essays and interviews. Before coming to NPR in 2021, Hazel was a culture reporter at Jezebel, where she wrote about music and popular culture. She was also a writer for MTV News and a founding staff writer for the teen publication Rookie magazine.