‘Fruitcake’ Review: Sabrina Carpenter Sleighs with a Savory, Bite-Size Christmas EP

Fruitcake - Sabrina Carpenter

Sabrina Carpenter is the gift that keeps on giving this year.

As if viral dance choreography and opening for Taylor Swift on her infamous Eras Tour weren’t enough, the actress turned underground pop sensation released Fruitcake, a surprise 6-track Christmas EP, just in time for the holidays.

The vintage album artwork emphasizes this bite-size album’s nostalgic, evergreen vibes. However, the real magic lies in Carpenter’s trademark “Nonsense” verses and cheeky reimaginings of classic holiday anthems. Indeed, our pop princess couldn’t have delivered a sweeter, sexier entry into the genre.

Fruitcake - Sabrina Carpenter
Fruitcake – Sabrina Carpenter (©2023 Island Records)

Kicking off Carpenter’s holiday era is “A Nonsense Christmas” — a pre-released remix of her hit song “Nonsense.”

Headlining Fruitcake, the veteran track continues its iconic reign with the fun, flirty energy of her beloved freestyles while incorporating heavy-hitting Christmas punchlines.

It’s impossible not to catch that holiday glee with lyrics like, “I’m talkin’ deckin’ all the halls / I’m talkin’ spikin’ eggnog / I’m talkin’ big snowballs,” or a personal favorite, “I might change your contact to ’Has a Huge North Pole.'”

“Buy Me Presents” is a classic Christmas anthem with a subtle infusion of spice. It’s gleeful and upbeat, perfect for those New York City montages at the beginning of a Hallmark movie.

“Santa Doesn’t Know You Like I Do” is a methodical pop ballad that yearns for the fun holiday puns that populate its counterparts and hopes for the good time drumming just underneath the vocals. It is infused with a subtle sadness that plays beautifully into the soft, break-up sonnet of “Cindy Lou Who.”

Fruitcake - Sabrina Carpenter
Fruitcake – Sabrina Carpenter (©2023 Island Records)

In the name of a classic Grinch character, its haunting lyrics beautifully capture those complicated feelings of witnessing someone you love spend Christmas with someone else. And also the desire to break free from heartbreak to enjoy the green and red festivities.

Holiday break-ups are a universal experience often discluded from the genre’s narrative because of their depressing nature. So, it is lovely to see Carpenter cover a range of emotional journeys in this short EP.

And, what better way to wash that bitter taste of sorrow away than with an anti-holiday anthem?

“Is it New Year’s Yet?” is the ideal Reputation-esc song to get us riled up. Thriving to a disco-pop beat and joyfully belting out twisted lyrics of revenge, heartbreak, and pessimism, this second-last track is a stand-out.

Finally, Carpenter closes her EP with “White Xmas” and a dream-like acapella melody of Christmas songs. The other five tracks forge their own path, clinging to nostalgia for familiarity. However, it seems fitting to include more of a traditional re-record, especially when it captures the uniqueness of the artist’s range.

Fruitcake - Sabrina Carpenter
Fruitcake – Sabrina Carpenter (©2023 Island Records)

Carpenter ate with this holiday album.

Fruitcake is a fun romp through the often overdone, stuffy Christmas genre. It breaks the mold of tradition by turning up the heat and spiking that egg nog. Thus, these spicey, fever-dream pop songs ask very little of the listener to be likable.

However, her clever wordplay and ability to convey holiday romance from various angles in just 16 minutes gives this entry an intoxicating depth.

My only complaint? Like the Christmas memories we cling to for comfort, Fruitcake’s fun is fleeting. It is too easy to devour in a brief sitting. I need more — so much more!

Also, if Carpenter’s team sees this, please release that gorgeous green Fruitcake vinyl for the masses and make everyone’s nice list this holiday season.

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Alicia is a writer from Canada. She credits her passion for TV and film to superheroes, workplace comedies, cheesy holiday movies, and coming-of-age stories.

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