ALBUM REVIEW: Sabrina Carpenter Drops “Singular: Act II”
Sabrina Carpenter knows what it’s like to be giddy with anticipation. After all, there’s a line in her song, “Almost Love,” that likens this specific feeling to the curtain being down right before a show. When you have had a great little sneak peek at what’s in store, but know that there’s even more ahead? That’s when true excitement can mount. And that’s exactly what has happened between the singer’s Singular albums, Act I and Act II.
If you’ve ever been to a live musical or play, you know that the show’s intermission can make your whole experience even richer. You can see the reactions of your friends and family, survey others’ opinions to fill out your own understanding, and digest what you’ve just experienced before clearing your slate a bit to take in the finale. That’s what the family that is Sabrina’s fandom has been up to since Act I dropped in November 2018. All of us have been skillfully unpacking the star’s lyrics, finding ourselves between the notes of our favorite tracks, and trying to predict how part 2 would make its mark. Together.
Now it’s here, and I can’t wait to see the excitement ripple through the fandom. Since first pressing play on an advanced listening copy of Act II, I have kept going back to the album and hearing something new. My first reaction was: while fans’ playlists may have certainly been prepared for the launch, we certainly weren’t *ready,* you know?
If you were able to follow along with Sabrina’s Singular Tour this spring, you got to know intro tracks “Exhale” and “Pushing 20” in real time. As she was gearing up to leave her teenage years behind, Sabrina introduced us to a more mature writing style that easily blended poignant confessions with self-assured poise. The contrast of her song topics tells an important story: we can experience anxiety, moments of immaturity, and self-doubt every day – but we can also know our worth to stand up for ourselves against toxic friendships and relationships that don’t work.
My early new favorites on this album were easily “I’m Fakin,” “Take Off All Your Cool,” and “Looking At Me,” which further all of the above ideas. I’m thrilled that Sabrina released the former ahead of the full Act II launch, because it ties the first and second parts together flawlessly. It’s catchy, smart, and sassy (like the biggest bops of Act I), but it peels back another layer to show some unexpected vulnerability. That’s what we all loved about “Exhale” too. When she sings about sounding bold by playing games or putting on a face braver than her own, it feels like a real representation of confidence. Being truly confident doesn’t mean rejecting all parts of yourself that are still unsure – it’s not letting that fear of the unknown stop you.
“I’m Fakin” is also a perfect introduction to Sabrina’s music world for fans-to-be who may not have experienced her songs before: the radio-friendly single is part sassy, part vulnerable, and completely infectious.
Act II is a satisfying follow-up to the first album installment, filled with empowering jams and emotional moments that take the whole listening experience to the next level. And while we aren’t left on a musical cliffhanger, it’s clear that the curtain isn’t falling with this thrilling release. Sabrina still has so much more to say.
Photography by Mr. iozo, provided courtesy
Written by Kristine Hope Kowalski