Written By Chloé Sautereau
Witty word choice makes for ear candy in Sabrina Carpenter’s recent release “Already Over”. The song is part of her latest studio album emails i can’t send. Inspired from actual emails she wrote to herself “before she had a therapist,” the 23-year-old’s fifth studio album is filled with a rare kind of genuinism.
It feels simple – to the point – starting immediately with a four-on-the-floor kick that pulls the track’s groove to something like house music. Accompanied by swishes and a repetitive melodic riff, the track feels somewhat ephemeral. A casual sensuality emerges from the perpetuity of the kick drum, balanced with Carpenter’s meandering vocal. There’s a fragility there too, as she sings in an almost-whisper, balanced by a level of assertiveness that’s oddly refreshing.
Before I was wrapped in it… I thought “Already Over” would be about a stale relationship between two people that failed to admit to it; I expected the obvious. Rather the song is a confession to not being over somebody at all – falling where you’re trying to stand and willingly letting them back in. “How am I supposed to leave you now that you’re already over?” A-ha, physically being “over.” The refreshing word-use there is only a taste of what the rest of the song’s lyricism is like. Sung over a familiar melodic rhythm, it suggests the narrative is one that has been repeated, a (bad) habit. It sets opposites side by side, desire versus reason and an inability to stick to either. An emotional and tangible push and pull.
Indeed, the pacing of the words in “Already Over” works both with and against the tide and movement of the beat for something that’s engulfing. Like a collection of other songs on the album, this one was co-written by Carpenter herself along with the scoring duo Julia Michaels and JP Saxe, who can fit any number of words in any line, as well as John Ryan aka John the Blind who produced the track.
The beat comes alive with more textures when the chorus comes around: the kick is partnered with syncopated claps, Carpenter’s voice joined by gospel-like background vocals. This turns “Already Over” from an initially lounge-y track to a low-key anthemic, country infused pop song.
From personification to subject flips within lines, there proves to be finesse in the song’s lyricism. “I change my mind but it’s still on you” or “I like my bed, but it likes you too.”
Words and sounds are repeated but their meaning is rarely twice the same. Indeed the plays on words and syllabic sounds are effective and as satisfying as it is a source of surprise in the best way. It seems that with every track on this LP, Carpenter becomes more personable, carving out her pop palette with might and delicacy.
There’s a powerful, “routine” aspect to the story told in “Already Over” – a comfortability found within the song’s honesty – and the way it’s conveyed supports it. From the instrumentation to every syllable sung, it’s the kind of email you wish you could send, but that you might have to end up just playing over in your head.