Carly Rae Jepsen’s ‘E.MO.TION’

Album title: E.MO.TION

Artist: Carly Rae Jepsen

Genre: Pop

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Already critically lauded as a ‘spotless pop album’, Jepsen’s latest offering has the potential to finally deliver the underrated songstress the acclaim she deserves. Jepsen arguably lacks the brash attitude, spangly costumes and frighteningly loyal fanbase of her more prosperous fellow pop musicians; but E.MO.TION seriously gives one of the best pop releases of 2014, Taylor Swift’s ‘1989’, a run for its money. The album title is apt – the songs are all centred on Jepsen’s feelings, usually to do with falling in or out of love. But such is the playful, simplicity of the lyrics that each track instantly feels relatable, and nothing drags or disheartens in the manner that a Lana Del Rey song might. Everything is tight, nothing feels like wasted space. Sonically, the record ultimately owes a lot to the 80s, with its addictive synth-driven beats and starry-eyed lyrics.

It’s immediately clear that E.MO.TION has been chiselled and produced to perfection, with apparently hundreds of rejections lying on the cutting room floor. It’s the undeniably infectious record that the likes of Hilary Duff failed to release during her flash-in-the-pan comeback last year.

In fact, it’s hard to settle on one track that stands out from the rest as the strongest, as nearly all are solid, and warrant plenty of replays. Perhaps ‘All That’ with it’s silky, slow-build beat and softly pleading vocals, or ‘LA Hallucinations.’ ‘There’s a little black hole in my golden cup so/You pour and I’ll say stop’, Jepsen croons, a flicker of darkness in her tone, as though she’s self-aware of the self-destructive, fame-hungry behaviour that LA seems to breed, like a deadly celebrity-slaying disease. ‘Boy Troubles,’ penned with Sia, is the first track to feature the elusive, melancholic artist, that doesn’t tug on the heart strings as much as it is a joy-filled bop. The title track ‘E.MO.TION’ peppily surmises the general atmosphere of the album, and has shrewd echoes of the chart-topping behemoth that was ‘Call Me Maybe,’ with its equally karaoke-ready chorus.

Jepsen made a smart move in teaming up with Ariel Rechtshaid – the genius behind the tight drum machine and ear-worm synthesiser sounds. Overall what’s been hewn together is a record that showcases audibly well-constructed, memorable pop music. On the surface, finding fault with ‘E.MO.TION’ as a pop album would be difficult. The trouble is that underneath, Jepsen’s refusal to solidify a more flamboyant, media-baiting demeanour may be her achilles heel. As refreshing as it is to enjoy a pop record that doesn’t repeatedly slam a stars image into the listener’s perspective, Jepsen may end up being forgotten beneath the thunderous clamour of more media-hungry stars like Miley Cyrus and Taylor Swift. Carly Rae may be resting on her laurels in terms of her image; the sweetly naïve, hopeless romantic – but if it ain’t broke then don’t fix it.

UK Release Date: 18 September 2015

Verdict: 8.5/10

Listen to: Warm Blood, All That, LA Hallucinations, I Didn’t Just Come Here To Dance, When I Needed You

For fans of: Taylor Swift’s 1989, Charli XCX’s Sucker

Featured photos not owned or produced by author.

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The Online Dating Minefield

It has become the norm, perhaps even passé (are you over online dating yet?) to find love, or even just casual sex using social media and the internet. Wind back a few years and you’d be getting bewildered reactions and cautions against creeps and freaks if you mentioned hooking up with someone through the web.

Nonetheless, pitfalls and embarrassing moments still wait to entrap us. I’ve been using dating apps on and off for a few years now, sometimes with ‘success’ and other times with atrocious, but thankfully fleeting dating experiences. Here are some of the aspects of using apps like ‘tinder’ and ‘happn’ that I’d be happy to have terminated, lovingly illustrated by the stars of Ru Paul’s Drag Race…

1. People with embarrassing, arrogant profiles

I genuinely don’t understand this. Perhaps I’m being too harsh and finicky for my own good, but I just find some people’s online descriptions of themselves far too embarrassing to comprehend.

One gentleman had a series of presentation slides as his photographs, with each slide listing reasons why he would make a good date/boyfriend, overall urging me to ‘swipe right’ or regret it.

Another profile proudly said that if one didn’t find him attractive then it was necessary to ‘raise ur standardz.’ Okay.

Just be concise and honest about yourself.

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And if you’re truly struggling to sum yourself up in a couple of sentences then you may need to spend some time alone, reflecting on your own character and personality, before you lunge face-first into the dating pool.

 

2. The ‘Bug-a-Boo’

So you’ve matched up with someone or whatever. Soon enough, you receive a message:

“Hey.”

It’s short and uninteresting, and you’re probably too busy or not in the mood to reply to it right now. I mean, first of all there’s no effort put into that sort of greeting at all, as it leaves the direction of the conversation with only a muddy, vague potential. Where’s the friendly question to get things going?

So you choose to ignore the message for now. That’s fine. You don’t owe this stranger anything. But they seem to view this situation a little differently, and deem it appropriate to message the heck out of you until they finally get a response to their desperate, one-sided communications.

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Oh and get ready for the possibility of sudden volcanic bursts of anger and vitriol directed your way . Or in the worse case scenario a butt-hurt round of guilt-trippery:

“I guess I’m just not handsome enough for you m’lady. Which is a shame because were you to get to know me, you’d be able to appreciate me for the true gentleman that I am.”

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3. The ‘Sexy Pic’ Pest

We’ve all experienced this. The eye-roll inducing, wheedling persistence for a ‘sexy photo’.  Even after you’ve said no. It’s downright pathetic. And not to mention that we’ve just started talking? !! You only learned of my existence on this earth a few hours ago!

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There are plenty of reasons why a person might not want to send a suggestive or nude picture; a lack of confidence, a belief that ‘nudes’ are abhorrent or tacky, or by having the view that waiting until you are physically together to unveil themselves is the best route for a relationship. I have nothing against nude photos, or people choosing to send them to one another, but for goodness sake, respect a person’s wishes. People say no for a reason, and they shouldn’t have to justify why to the likes of you. Slime over to PornHub if you’re that desperate to see some naked flesh.

 

4. The ambiguous set of group photos

Just which one ARE you?! You’re already setting me up for annoyance by proposing a puzzle of deduction before we’ve even said hello.

And the sad thing is, when you do make the effort to work out which one they are, it’s never the ‘hot’ one.

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5. No relevant photos at all.

Some people just have photos of memes. Honestly. Trying to showcase your dazzling wit, are we?

And one person I stumbled across on Tinder had only one photo, and it was of a bird of prey of all things. It was a very nice, high-res photo of a flying falcon, I must admit. But how am I supposed to navigate Tinder as it was designed, and make a judgement on you from such an image? Just one selfie would suffice. Please.

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6. The Pseudo-Philosophical Twat

Textbook depth. From the very beginning it feels like a job interview, or an interrogation. But the questions are very weird, like they were ripped from the faux-deep cranium of a committed stoner-brain. And they come flying out of nowhere with no explanation or build-up.

“Do you feel the need for constant change in your life?”

“Are we both weird, or just wonderfully unique?”

“What do you think about the passage of time?”

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7. That Awkward First Date

I waited with a friend of mine one night, having pre-drinks in Soho before she was supposed to meet up with a guy she’d been talking to via a dating app. This was their First Date and she was understandably a little nervous. When you’ve never been in the company of somebody before, you just have no clue what kind of dynamic is going to emerge. Chemistry could naturally bloom and result in a pleasant experience that you’ll want to arrange for again. Or, a pervasive, flat atmosphere could have you wishing for a black hole to suddenly squish your body and soul into oblivion.

Apparently my friend’s date walked like a clown and made no effort in conversation. Stellar.

Heed my warning. Being stuck alone in awkward situations with strangers, for prolonged periods of time, are SOUL-DESTROYING.

So before you summon the courage to ask, or respond with a ‘yes’ to the arrangement of a date, consider if this total stranger is likely to be worth such a risk. Or if you have the money to spend on enough alcohol to get sloshed into apathy.

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8. Trying WAY too Hard

I’m so guilty of this. The amount of times I’ve socially sinned – making awful goofy jokes; replying back far too quickly and keenly; using a staggering amount of emoticons to seem engaged and cute. Ugh. Just push me down a tall set of stairs please. Where is that tiny voice in the back of my head to seize me by the lapels and tell me to cALM the FUCK DOWN?!

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Unfortunately, when you’re attracted to somebody’s appearance and they appear to have a personality that you’re sure would gel nicely with you’re own, then it’s incredibly hard not to figuratively flail and prance around like a lunatic.

I know. Not only are they gorgeous but they seem genuinely interested in you too, and it’s amazing, I get it.

Trust me. Wind it back a few gears – you probably look like a giant twat.

Looks by Luisa – ‘My Boyfriend is a Biker’

Welcome to my first fashion ‘Outfit of the Day’ blog post, or a ‘Looks by Luisa’ article. I want to share some of my daily style choices with you guys, as I believe fashion is a huge part of self-expression and can tell you a lot about a person’s personality. It would be really cool if anyone happened to be inspired by my stylistic choices too! So here goes, Look Number One…

A leather jacket is a classic staple in any fashionista’s wardrobe. It can be thrown on to punk up a simple outfit, or to take a dress effortlessly from day to nightwear. I personally love taking the fashion associations of a leather jacket – motorbikes, rock and roll, punks etc. –  and pushing them into my aesthetic. So today, I’m wearing black and chrome-plated items with cutesy-casual touches, like my velvet headband and tiger-head backpack.

The plaid shirt knotted around my waist is to add a grungy, don’t-care aspect to the look, along with other ‘grunge-inspired’ accessories like the choker and rounded sunglasses. Overall I wanted the look to say: ‘Yeah my boyfriend is a tough, gruff dirty biker boy. I sometimes borrow his clothes – and I look super-cute when I do it.’

Luisa X

P.S Luisa is my middle name, for anyone confused. It’s the alias that I’m choosing to blog as from now on.
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So where’s it all from?:

Top – ladygaga.com

Chain necklace – Firetrap

Yin-yang choker – Topshop

Dungaree dress – theraggedpriest.com

Plaid shirt – Urban Outfitters

Tiger backpack – ebay.com

Spiked bracelet – Primark

Sunglasses – American Apparel

Spiked ring – Zara

Cross ring – Topshop

Leather jacket – Topshop

Headband – American Apparel

Boots – Demonia

A vaguely bizarre summer experience

Look at this mug. Hideous isn’t it? IMG_0764

It’s one unique addition to the mug collection in my family home that I’m oddly fond of. The grotesque tea and coffee coloured smears aren’t the stains of long-term use: they’re part of the design. The mug has always looked this tragically ugly. It was originally purchased as an ironic joke for my father’s birthday. But it was the place it came from that truly still reeks of nostalgia for me.

When me and my younger sister were pre-teens, our parents would take us on an annual summer holiday trip to Braunton in Devon. With two demanding brats in tow, it was a daily puzzle for my parents to try and find something to entertain two kids who were too young to understand the pleasures of quiet relaxation. After days out to the beach had run their course in terms of keeping me and my sister satisfied, my parents would dig up some old leaflets that advertised attractions in the local area.

Very quickly we ended up putting a line through most of the available sources of entertainment, until very few options remained. We were a little sceptical of the vibrant enthusiasm with which it was advertised in the leaflet, but we finally selected an attraction.

So what was the final decision?

Watermouth Castle. One of Devon’s ‘Top Family Attractions’ apparently.

The day already looked miserable, with grey clouds clustered overhead and only the faintest glow of light filtering in-between. It looked perpetually poised to drizzle in a most miserable and disheartening fashion. Such is the nature of British weather. We all piled into the car, and my mother drove us through the endlessly meandering roads, framed by jewel-green, rain-soaked hedges and fields.

We finally arrived. The castle was modest in size, lacking any of the imposing majesty of the castles in my imagination. Once inside, I was awed to discover that the whole attraction invariably aped the atmosphere of a bona fide ghost-town. There was not another soul to be found, anywhere. For once, me and my sister weren’t tempted to tear about a new environment like a pair of animals, chasing one another and screeching loudly. We were both rather subdued by the strange, musty aura of the castle. It felt poised on a state normally attributed to post-apocalyptic scenarios: the brink of disrepair and abandonment. watermouthcastleatrocities

Misshapen, eerie dolls and sculptures were dotted throughout Watermouth both inside and out, as though the creator had envisioned a creepy treasure trail. The slightly frightening exhibits attempted to charm, but instead invited confusion and an unnerving of the senses. I felt sorry for the little creatures. My immature mind imagined them twitching to life and studying us, just at the moment we looked away. After all, we were strangers and trespassers into their world.

Eventually exhausted by taking in such oddity at every turn, we fell upon the advertised ‘courtyard cafe’ with relief. Finally some normality, surely. My sister opted for a simple snack: chips with cheese. What arrived at our little wooden picnic bench was cardboard-like and weirdly lukewarm. My sister was appropriately disgusted. Strangely, I can barely remember what any of the staff looked like, they didn’t seem to make much eye contact or talk very much. uglywatermouththings

After the cafe, the last leg of the journey through Watermouth was inevitably the gift shop. This is where my mother, sister and I discovered the ugly brown mug, adorned with the phrase ‘GRUMPY OLD MAN’, available for purchase as a present for a loved one presumably. My mother chuckled at its hideous appeal, deciding it was the perfect irksome gift for my father; a man who is wont to occasionally lapse into amusing moods of grumpiness, when he’s particularly stressed, tired or hungry. He found the mug hilariously disgusting, when it was finally presented to him.

The gift shop itself was filtered in bizarre hues of yellow and amber, with uneven dark wood shelves jutting straight from the swollen walls. I guess it was attempting to resemble the cottage interior of some form of cutesy magical creature, but it instead only succeeded in invading my bones with a pervasive, damp, chillness that didn’t dissipate until we had driven off the premises.

I’m quite an intuitive individual. I quite quickly feel and make a judgement about the atmosphere of a place, and even of individual people, and my judgments usually turn out to be accurate over time. The aura exuded by Watermouth Castle was decidedly one of vaguely other-worldly origins, my childlike mind concluded. Perhaps it was one of those places where the veils between this world and any potential, shadowy neighbouring worlds are thin… perhaps bizarre energy was leaking through and permeating the castle environment with a pervasive eeriness.

I was suitably fascinated by such a strange, warped environment, where everything was accidentally skewed towards ugliness. Overall, I realised that it’s important to always be alert and keep your eyes open, for inspiration lies everywhere. This atrocious little mug serves as a reminder that oddities are dotted across the world, in hidden places, lying in wait for discovery for an open-minded soul.

What I’ve been trying to say, in a long-winded, pretentious fashion, is to never quite switch off when exploring a new environment, as you could stumble across something memorable and even inspiring. In it’s way, Watermouth makes me think of how so many historical areas of Britain are being left behind, and gently crumbling and eroding with the passage of time. Falling back into the shadows and natural embrace of the land itself, and transforming into oddities to be uncovered. I hope to come across more of these environments in future, and document how they make me feel.

Keep your curiosity alive, and keep exploring.

Peace.

Photograph credit goes to http://www.watermouthcastle.com

‘Miracle’ Beauty Essentials

Flawless, youthful and dewy looking skin is the number one beauty goal for many people. The ultimate dream is to feel confident enough to forgo any foundation or concealer coverage because our skin looks totally fabulous and ‘perfect’ without it. Of course, there is a very valid argument that you don’t need to cover up your imperfections, and that you don’t need to look good for anybody – your appearance is your own personal business. Yet the confidence required to stop caring about how our skin and hair looks on a daily basis is far easier said than done. Besides, to some degree you should care, because your skin is a delicate organ and should be appropriately tended to, if only in the context of maintaining your own health. And if you commit to forming long-term habits pertaining to skin and hair maintenance then you will only receive positive results to be grateful for in the future. Look after your skin and hair basically, but do it for you, and nobody else.

However, with so many aspects of daily life fighting against achieving ‘flawless skin’ and ‘perfect hair’ – the harsh weather; pollution; a lack of time to commit to a proper beauty routine, and a confusing amount of expensive products to choose from that all claim to create perfect skin and gorgeous hair, it can be hard to know where to start. Here are some of my favourite, student budget-friendly products that have helped improve and protect my skin and hair…

1. No. 7 Protect and Perfect Intense Advanced Serum, around £15 – This really has to be my ultimate skin saviour, through consistent use, morning and night, the serum manages to radically soften my skin and quickly clear up any nasty break outs that I might be troubled with. What’s also great is the gentle nature of the product – I have super sensitive skin that’s prone to horrible allergic reactions if any products have strong chemical ingredients. For example, a lot of make-up remover wipes have a form of alcohol as an ingredient, which nearly always affects my skin, often resulting in a painful, burnt effect that lasts for days. Goodness knows why companies put alcohol into products that are meant for the skin – nobody should ever put alcohol on their face, as it’s only ever going to do damage. Trust me, watch this video where a skin expert explains why you shouldn’t put it – along with some other harmful ingredients – on your face, it’s a really educational watch.

2. Maybelline Baby Skin Primer, £7.99 – This primer is super cheap, and makes my skin literally feel like silk. In addition, this Baby Skin primer is definitely good value for money – which is essential for a student on a budget – as I don’t find myself having to use much product to cover my whole face. It’s the perfect product for preparing my skin and creating a base for my foundation and eye make-up, helping to prevent it from smudging and sliding off my face throughout the day. Plus, I’ve had no allergic reaction to this formula, despite having highly sensitive skin, which I’m really pleased about.

3. Garnier Ultimate Blends Sleek Perfector, around £10 – A couple of years ago I made the decision to dye my hair platinum blonde. This of course meant putting my tresses through some severe bleaching processes, which thoroughly weakened my hair, making it thinner, less workable and made it prone to breakage. Garnier’s latest hair care range has been a life-saver for me. The large variety of mixtures tailored to different hair requirements ensure that there is a perfect solution for every kind of hair nightmare. I found that The Sleek Restorer and Perfector products were the most helpful for my dry, frizzy hair. The Sleek Perfector Oil in particular was a great addition to my hair routine. It works as an excellant additional softening, smoothing and conditioning treatment after drying my hair post-wash, or it can be used as a heat protecting solution whenever I plan to style my hair with hot tools. I also highly recommend the newest addition to the Ultimate Blends range – The Strength Restorer shampoo and conditioner, as my hair has never felt so soft or thick. Here’s another tip, a lot of supermarkets and drug stores sell the shampoo and conditioners from the range at a discounted price if you buy the products as a pair, so keep an eye out.

4. The Soap and Glory ‘A Brush With Greatness’ Exfoliating Brush, around £6 – This little handheld tool is a manual version of the popular ‘Clarisonic’ electronic face cleansers that are great for getting rid of bacteria and dead skin cells. After removing my make-up, I often put a little dab of cleansing lotion onto the brush, before massaging the bristles against a pre-dampened face. Be very, very gentle when using these kind of tools, as scrubbing too hard is not going to help your skin at all. Applying too much pressure to the bristles will most likely just cause irritation and inflammation, which is to be avoided at all costs as it’s painful and promotes skin that is easily aggravated in future. I clean my brush after each use – otherwise I’d just be smudging all that old bacteria from the previous use back onto my face again, which negates the whole point of using the tool in the first place. Also, as you would with a toothbrush, I recommend replacing this brush every few months, or as often as you possibly can.

5. Nivea Pure and Natural Soothing Day Cream, around £3 – The gentle nature of this cream is perfect for my sensitive skin, it feels cool and calming whenever I rub it on, which generally is in the morning after my cleansing routine. However, I should warn you that if unlike me, you aren’t very fair, it can very subtly make you look a little paler if you don’t thoroughly massage the mixture into your skin. And here’s a little bit of cute trivia for you – there are rumours that the Duchess of Cambridge herself allegedly uses this cream.

6. Neutrogena Ultra Sheer Dry-Touch Sunscreen, SPF 30 and upwards, around £7 – You’ve probably seen this sort of thing in beauty magazines over and over – the advice telling you to wear sunscreen every day underneath your make-up. I’m a huge, huge supporter of this. UV rays are a big contributor to long-term skin damage, and can potentially lead to all sorts of problems, from pre-mature wrinkles to skin cancer. Even when the weather seems overcast, UV rays can filter through the clouds and have an effect, so it’s best to prepare in advance, and form a habit of wearing sunscreen on a daily basis. To me, the Neutrogena formula doesn’t feel greasy on my skin, and each tube lasts quite a while as a little amount goes a long way, so it’s good value for money.