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A Review of Sabrina Carpenter’s “emails i can’t send”

The opinions expressed in this article are the writer’s own and do not reflect the views of Her Campus.

On July 15, 2022, Sabrina Carpenter released “emails i can’t send.” Before the release of her fifth album, Carpenter experienced an eventful 2021 with the release of “drivers license” by Olivia Rodrigo which fans assumed chronicled the breakup between Rodrigo and Joshua Bassett. Unfortunately, both Carpenter and Bassett faced extreme backlash and hate for months following the release of the song as many fans mostly shifted the blame on Carpenter and Basset for the breakup. In the end, there is no concrete evidence that can tell us whether the blonde girl Rodrigo sang about was about Carpenter. Likewise, we can never know what really happened between Basset and Rodrigo. However, the release of “emails i can’t send” provides us with Carpenter’s side of the story and the overall personal and intimate feel of the album.

emails i can’t send

The first song of the album gives us an emotional beginning to the album as Carpenter writes it from the perspective of a daughter who just found out about her father’s affair. Carpenter gave a teaser to her fans on Instagram where she titled the caption “intro.” In the song, she talks about how the situation negatively impacts her as it leaves her going into relationships with the fear that it will turn out just like her parents. In addition, she talks about the betrayal she feels as the father she had loved and looked up to made a big mistake that cost her her family. The opening of the album gives a general sense of the album’s mood: raw, emotional and meaningful.

Vicious

The album’s second track is the polar opposite of the first track. In “Vicious,” Carpenter sings about being manipulated and having her image ruined. One thing I love about this song is how the chorus becomes very angry and jumbled. This song is supposed to be angry and you can feel the hurt and rage she feels from being deceived by the person she loves. It is the perfect song to scream about, literally. 

Read your mind

“Read your Mind” is truly the song that provides the perfect summary for any situationship you might find yourself in. Carpenter sings from the point of view of someone tired of not being able to interpret the signals her partner gives her. The song reminds me of her older songs such as “Thumbs” and “Sue Me.” The song is sassy and upbeat and exemplifies the improvement in her vocals and musicality. 

Tornado Warnings

In “Tornado Warnings,” Carpenter sings about ignoring the red flags her partner gives her. She tries to tell herself that she is not ignoring the toxicity of being with her partner, which ironically leads to her lying to herself, her therapist, and to her fans who are listening. I love how she titled this song “Tornado Warnings” as when you hear a tornado warning the logical thing to do is seek immediate shelter from the tornado. This metaphor coincides with the song as Carpenter does not immediately separate herself from the “tornado warnings” her partner gives off but rather runs toward them. 

because i liked a boy

This song is a fan favorite, and rightfully so. There is no denying Carpenter is singing about the public scrutiny she experienced following “drivers license” and her relationship with Joshua Bassett. This song is not shifting the blame on anyone for the events that happened. Carpenter is simply singing about the unjust hate she received from every corner of the media. 

This song truly deals with the negativity the media can produce and how vicious it can be. This is a favorite of mine for many reasons, one of them being how lyrically powerful it is and the overall message Carpenter closes it off with. 

Already Over

In “Already Over,” the song is sung about a relationship that has already ended but Carpenter still feels the need to gain closure and struggles to fall into a new routine without her partner. It exemplifies the vulnerability and emptiness that occurs after a relationship ends and Carpenter sings it with beautiful vocals and instrumentals. It is another song that contributes to the overall personal feeling of the album.

how many things

“how many things” signals the end of the album’s first half on a vulnerable note. Just like in the first song, Carpenter reveals a very emotional and vulnerable perspective as she talks about being unable to think about her relationship that has ended. The soft vocals and guitar instrumental provide a very fragile and sad mood to the song.

The song feels like part two to “Already Over” where she finally falls into a new routine without her partner which is a heartbreaking and vulnerable process. 

bet u wanna

The second half of the album starts off completely different compared to the first half. In “bet u wanna,” Carpenter sings about leaving a partner who is now completely desperate for her after she has moved on. The lyrics are boastful and prideful. She is bragging about how the tables have turned, essentially.

This song is a complete contrast to “how many things” which revealed a vulnerability associated with breakups. “bet u wanna” talks about the later stages of feeling completely free from that person and now watching as they suffer in the same position you were in months ago. 

Nonsense

This song is one of my all-time favorites of the album. It’s upbeat and pure pop perfection. Carpenter talks about catching feelings for someone and finding herself flustered and nervous around said someone. The song almost felt like it could fit into Ariana Grande’s album “positions” based on how upbeat and fun it is.

There are clear sexual undertones in the song as well which adds to the overall upbeat mood of the song. 

Fast Times

“Fast Times” came out as a single prior to the release of “emails i can’t send.” The song talks about a fast-paced, whirlwind romance that results in neither party thinking of the consequences. The song talks about an impulsive romance full of quick decisions. This song is also upbeat and pure pop, however, I would argue that “Nonsense” would have served as a better single for this album.

Skinny Dipping

“Skinny Dipping” served as another single for “emails i can’t send.” Now, initially, the song produced a lot of hate, and many called this song confusing for the way the lyrics are sung in an awkward, disrupted way. This song is not at the top of the list for me, but I do like the overall meaning of the song. Carpenter sings about catching up with an old partner and reflecting on the old memories and nostalgia of their relationship.

The overall song is not horrible. I appreciated the chorus and how flowy and whimsical it sounded. However, I believe that it should not have served as a single when you consider all her other songs that had the potential to serve in its place.

Bad for Business

In “Bad for Business,” Carpenter writes about acknowledging the toxicity of her partner but finds herself unable to leave the relationship. It captures one of the harmful aspects of relationships, fixation. The song itself has smooth vocals and an upbeat instrumental behind lyrics that fixate on a new relationship and ignores all the red flags. 

decode

“decode” is the album’s final track, ending it on a hopeful and fulfilled note. Carpenter sings about refusing to analyze the remnants of her relationship and wondering what went wrong. The song is emotional as it exemplifies her finally moving on and not wasting nights over “what could have been.”

This song is the perfect ending to an album that is personal, emotional and covers all aspects of heartbreak and relationship. The album proves how far Sabrina Carpenter has come musically and lyrically in her songs. 

Tasnia Zakir (she/her) is a psychology major at VCU and part of the editorial team at VCU's HerCampus. Her interests include pop culture, film, mental health, and literature.
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