Thursday, May 9th, 2024

Sabrina Carpenter – Espresso

It’s I! hi! Me espresso it’s I!

Sabrina Carpenter - Espresso
[Video]
[7.41]

Joshua Lu: Sabrina Carpenter has positioned herself as the industry’s premiere deliverer of fancy nonsense: “dream-came-true’d” rhymed with “perfumed” rhymed with “Mountain Dew’ed”; a reference to a video game console that actually sounds grounded in the current decade, a possible first for the Hot 100, and of course the titular claim to be “me espresso.” Even the song’s most memorable line, where she blithely states her occupation as a singer, becomes camp through its sheer banality. This tactical quirkiness elevates “Espresso” from being a decent reinvention of “Say So” to welcome playlist fodder in the months to come. In a time when calling music “brainless poolside summer noise” is used to justify mediocrity, it’s pleasant to hear actual brainless poolside summer noise with legitimate thought and personality behind it.
[7]

Hannah Jocelyn: Sabrina Carpenter has found her niche by being a total goofball, and I have to respect it. She sings like she knows how dumb “that’s that me espresso” is as a line but also knows that it’s a catchy hook. Good thing, too, because Julian Bunetta’s production is unremarkable nü-disco that makes me wonder what to call it when it’s not nü anymore.
[7]

Jacob Sujin Kuppermann: “Say So” is the Urtext of 2020s pop music: often imitated, often matched, but rarely surpassed, which is a shame because, as previously noted, that’s a hot loop not a hot song. Carpenter swaps nonsense for missense; every line here is mutated in a way that (intentionally?) evokes Italo disco and Swedish factory pop, and it basically works. I wish it were a little less self aware; both here and on “nonsense,” Carpenter feels the need to remark on the stupidity of her own songs in a way that suggests a lack of confidence in the broader act. Even with that slight dissonance, though, it’d be pointlessly contrarian to deny the quality of the groove and the schtick. Just because she thinks it’s stupid doesn’t mean I have to agree.
[7]

TA Inskeep: Jeremy D. Larson is right to suggest that this is like Carly Simon’s “Why” pulled inside-out, and then, I think, perhaps stretched a bit like taffy left out on a hot summer day. This isn’t as good as “Why” — few songs are — but it’s got a similar vibe and smartly turns disco into easy-to-swallow pop. Carpenter sounds like she can’t be bothered, which helps.
[9]

Oliver Maier: It’s easy and not entirely unreasonable to dismiss “Espresso” as more of the diet disco fare we’ve been inundated with for the past half-decade, but it’s arch and queasy-sounding in a way that’s more Neon Indian than Doja Cat. The mosquito-whine synth riff in the pre-chorus sounds like it could’ve graduated from the Vega Intl. Night School. I don’t know whether I’m totally won over by Carpenter — the lyrics strike me less as so-dumb-they’re-brilliant and more as just dumb — but I’m taken by the way everything in this song sounds.
[7]

Nortey Dowuona: Julian Bunetta returns to our shores, now sipping the espresso of Amy Allen and Sabrina Carpenter. His drums here are a bland 1984 rehash; they sound nice enough but don’t really push the envelope. Thankfully, the swirling rubbery synth bass and spectral keys of the chorus are a nice touch, as are the guitar filtered down into a dusting that’s revealed in bits and pieces in the mix, and the neat little keyboard riff around the pre-chorus. The voices of Carpenter, Amy Allen and Steph Jones create a lush harmony that allows Carpenter to descant at the top of her range without it feeling jarring or irritable. Very good cup, but it’s a medium-size one.
[7]

Alfred Soto: I liked it the moment the distorted/sampled/real guitar squealed at 0:52; I loved it when the bass and percussion track hopped into bed and didn’t let go. In the last two days I’ve heard “Espresso” blasting from an F-150 as it screeched past me on my morning constitutional and at my favorite watering hole. The mood lifted. Key is Sabrina Carpenter, heiress of a vocal lineage that includes Andrea True, Kylie, and Annie. 
[9]

Isabel Cole: Stupid, she mutters near the end, amused, ostensibly about her affair; but it’s hard not to hear it as a moment of breaking kayfabe about the whole endeavor and be inclined to agree, but cheerfully, in the spirit of: I’ll drink to that! I like that she sings it like her mind is elsewhere, to the extent that she intones “I guess so” so weirdly it sounds like she’s learned the line phonetically. And I really like the little fembot yes-es in the pre-chorus, a mini-posse of Sabrinas programmed only for fun in the sun. “Espresso” is frozen yogurt in song form: sweet and weightless and refreshing enough that if you’re not paying attention you might not even notice how empty it is, and if you do, well, on certain sweltering Sundays that’s part of the appeal. 
[7]

Katherine St. Asaph: No thoughts head empty type beat.
[7]

Ian Mathers: Aggressively competent, and a fine addition to the annals of delightful pop semi-gibberish in the form of “that’s that me espresso.” Docked a point for “I know I Mountain Dew it for ya” because come the fuck on.
[6]

Taylor Alatorre: “Stupid,” indeed, in the most generously and joyfully pre-meditated of ways. But not so stupid regarding the relative caffeine content of different brands of soda — as Carpenter is no doubt aware, Mountain Dew is by a good margin the most caffeinated of the major brands, with a 12 fl oz can providing about 85% of the caffeine contained in a single shot of espresso. Celebrities: they read the Nutrition Facts when they’re bored just like us!
[8]

Wayne Weizhen Zhang: Hot, sweet, smooth, tasty but not particularly substantive, and with playful notes. Not unlike…
[8]

Will Rivitz: A Nespresso pod of a song: shiny, cheaply produced, and considerably worse than the thing it’s trying to imitate. Probably bad for the environment, too.
[3]

Will Adams: Is this the five thousandth “Say So” retread to enter the pop arena? Yes. Was “Say So” itself not that innovative? Yes. Does “Espresso” get away with it by virtue of being dumb as hell? Yes. 
[7]

Kayla Beardslee: Sweet but with a bite like macchiato / Served up just how they like it on the radio / Dear pop girls, can you please move on from “Say So” / Sabrina’s sense of humor makes this land, though.
[7]

Rachel Saywitz: “Espresso” is ridiculous, braggadocios, and a bit idiotic, but it also sounds so lived-in: in the way you psych yourself up in the mirror when you’re nervous (“that’s…that’s that me! Espresso!”), or the way you vent to a friend about someone who ticked you off (“like, literally, that’s that me espresso, and I fucking told them that”), or the way you start bawling during a therapy session after uncovering some deep personal truth (“it was me *sob sob* I was the espresso all along *sob sob sob*”). It’s a communal inside joke that gives each of us our own grandiose thrill.
[8]

Michael Hong: Originally mistook this for a K-pop song, but no group gets the dumb rush of “I know I Mountain Dew it for you.” It’s the part of a crush where you’re bending over backwards to be whatever they need: a dream come true, their ex, a warm shot of espresso.
[7]

Jackie Powell: “Espresso” is such a feat for Sabrina Carpenter. That can’t be understated. She starred on a Disney Channel show that was way past the prime of the network, then she was rumored to be the foil in Olivia Rodrigo’s breakout “Driver’s License,” and now she’s on the precipice of having the song of the summer. Carpenter’s previous single, “Feather,” was an earworm that relied upon a steady baseline and a piano riff that intentionally flitters throughout each hook, and built her momentum by becoming a radio sleeper. It’s impressive how effortless “Espresso” seems. The song’s grammar-defying lyrics could have made this an absolute mess, but “Espresso” is quite sophisticated in how it plays with appositives —a noun phrase that describes the one that came before it, as in the phrase “That’s That Me Espresso“— and conversions, when a word changes parts of speech, as in how Carpenter turns “dream come true” into “dream-come-true’d.” Carpenter uses caffeine as a symbol of her sexual power, and her confidence in her delivery of the absolutely ridiculous lyrics makes the listener believe her message. Is it just the super smooth rhythm guitar and bassline of Julian Bunetta that puts me under a spell for three minutes? Maybe! When I listen to “Espresso,” I can’t help but feel a sense of autonomy. It doesn’t matter how unrelatable the line “I’m working late ’cause I’m a singer” is. The headspace around moments when you have so much confidence absolutely is. 
[8]

Mark Sinker: Natasha Henstridge diving thru the glass in SPECIES (1995): when the song break containment
[10]

Dave Moore: The pleasure I found in this too-arch-by-half bon bon early on was fragile, and commercial success has soured the fun — it wants so badly to be an admirable flop. But given this is the Year of the Flop, maybe the true flop is success?
[6]

Alex Clifton: “Espresso” has been stuck in my head for a solid three weeks, even to the point of keeping me up at night (just like a good caffeine buzz). You’d think that would be too much, but honestly I cannot get enough of it. I get buzzed on this like it’s a drug. It’s a perfect summer pop song — frothy, cheeky, a little weird, and sunny, with both a beautiful earworm of a melody and lyrics that are just strange enough to question but sound good anyway. (Who would’ve thought to rhyme “Nintendo” with “espresso”? Now I’ll always hear it.) Welcome to the big time, Sabrina Carpenter. So pleased to have see you arrive.
[10]

Andrew Karpan: Somehow it took me the entire month of April to listen to “Espresso,” a song that was everywhere and nowhere, a collectively held memory of other songs and how big they used to feel. One misses songs that sound like this. Sabrina Carpenter may sound like Ariana Grande or may sound like Dua Lipa, but what she sounds like is the present day, the wind as the subway doors close, pigeon carrier of a message of hope, on the lips of everyone, at least somewhere. Me espresso, you espresso, we expresso. 
[8]

Reader average: [7.57] (7 votes)

Vote: 0   1   2   3   4   5   6   7   8   9   10

Leave a Reply