Album Review: Frankie Cosmos – Vessel

By Emily DiAlbert, Staff Writer
[Sub Pop; 2018]
Rating: 8.5/10

Key Tracks: “Caramelize”, “Duet”, “Vessel”

It’s not a secret that singer-songwriter Greta Kline of Frankie Cosmos has always viewed herself as an outsider. Her previous effervescent albums show snapshots of her distinct human experiences with the outside world through her metaphorical lyrics and sometimes outlandish song topics. However, on her band’s latest studio album, Vessel, Kline’s songs are different. Through this album, Kline finally begins to tackle her self-doubt lyrically. Packaged with self-empowering tracks, love songs, breakup tracks and sweet, intimate ditties, Vessel is the tenderhearted inside view of Kline’s mind that everyone’s been waiting for.

Under the guise of upbeat, swirling instrumentals, songs including “Apathy”, “I’m Fried” and “Cafeteria” begin to delve into Kline’s mysterious psyche. In “Apathy”, she expresses her self-doubt (“Looking around at 22 / And so tired of myself around you”) and her desire to understand her true purpose in life (“I want to feel whole” and “I just want to feel like I’m / Neatly designed / Like a telephone pole”). In “I’m Fried”, she further expresses her self-doubt through the lyric, “I just want to know that I would walk away from wrong.” The song “Cafeteria” is probably the saddest on the album, but, because of the extra-bouncy instrumentals that supplement the lyrics, you wouldn’t know it unless you really listened.

Kline said in an interview that “Lots of life is constantly putting on a brave face and not exactly giving everyone the true experience of what you’re feeling,” which is likely why she so stealthily paired her darker thoughts with such upbeat instrumentals throughout the album.

Despite several sadder songs on Vessel, there are quite a few wholly-positive songs on the 18-track release. The song “Being Alive”, a refreshed version of a previously-recorded track from Kline’s 2014 self-released album, Affirms Glinting, preaches the mantra “Being alive matters quite a bit, even if you feel like shit.” The anthem features extreme tempo changes that go from one end of the spectrum to the other in seconds, but, nonetheless, it’s a cute revamp with a pure meaning.

Among the other wholly-positive tracks are “Caramelize” and “Duet”, both of which are love songs. Vessel’s opening song “Caramelize” uses beautifully descriptive lyrics including “I want in on the other side / of your eyelids where you hide” and “Heart gets tender” (which is repeated often throughout the song’s duration) to describe a crush.  “Duet”, another remade track from Kline’s 2014 self-release Donutes, is simply about pure infatuation (“Makin’ a list / Of people to kiss / The list is a million yous long / Just yous all the way down”). This track is particularly unique because it incorporates twirling electronic transitions between verses.

Vessel also includes various 30 to 60-second-long ditties that Frankie Cosmos certainly didn’t have to include, but thankfully did. Among them is the track “Ur Up”, which includes a mess-up of the first verse and the voice of the band’s recording director saying, “Keep going, it’s good.” As Kline said in an interview, “It’s a little glimpse into the tender moments in the studio.” Another song, “The End”, is a short demo Kline recorded on her computer right after she wrote the song. The fresh recording does an exceptional job of highlighting the singer’s talent and raw emotion.

Vessel’s candidness is unprecedented and relatable, and between its raw intimacy and bouncy dance anthems, the album offers something for everyone. Because of this, the record could hold not only as Frankie Cosmos’ best studio album to date, but also as one of the best indie-pop records released so far in 2018. Thanks to Kline’s mastery of crafting poetic lyrics, current and new fans have a new classic to cherish for years to come.

Listen here:

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