Indie pop project Frankie Cosmos, fronted by singer and guitarist Greta Kline, released their third studio album Vessel on March 30, 2018. Since signing to Sub Pop Records in April of 2017, Frankie Cosmos has created a buzz among fans with an extensive tour announcement and album confirmation. Vessel comes as an assertive release for the band, securing their spot in the indie music scene beyond New York DIY. Maintaining a clear connection to the group’s nascent bedroom-pop sound, each song on the album is a short burst of catchy rhythms, some under a minute long. Yet each moment filled with intricacies, poignant lyrics and polished instrumentals.
In the album’s compact running-time of just over 30 minutes, Kline describes moments of vulnerability, love, heartbreak, and the trials of youth. Hints of the nostalgic fantasies of Zentropy and the youthful poetry of Next Thing come through in the opening track, Caramelize. Kline visits an unpredictable relationship and the cacophony of emotions it solicited. With the signature softness of her voice, Kline delivers a story of navigating love and loss through moments emotional growth. The instrumentals contrast this with an air of certainty and willful presence. Multi-instrumentalist Lauren Martin, bassist Alex Bailey and drummer Luke Pyenson add a seasoned musical element with force, a shift from the project’s earlier DIY sound. All of these elements catalyze into Apathy, a steady track with well-thought-out melodies and clear instrumental movements accompanying the youthful musings of Kline’s post-relationship thoughts.
The innocent qualities of love meet the complex emotional reality of relationships in As Often As I Can and This Stuff. Taking the musical tone of 1950s love ballads, Kline’s soft voice seems to blend in with the idealist love these songs preach. Yet her lyrics express emotional depth and dimensionality. In This Stuff, she sings, “not all trees have fruits or flowers/ some are just there to grow,” visiting the overarching theme of Vessel that expresses discomfort with the idea of the self as a vessel for a larger purpose.
Jesse asserts itself as the stand-out track of the album with a clear rhythmic vision. Kline’s playful and deeply personal lyrics maintain the She sings, “oh to be part of the scenery/ oh to be filled with apathy,” grappling with the weight of emotions that complicate the naivety of young love. Kline maintains an air of youthful creativity with her imaginative lyrics while describing a cutting realism of breakups. She sings, “I’ve created a scorpion and then had to kill it/ just like I loved you and then had to will it/ to end.” The music video for Jesse, released just days before the album, mimics this juxtaposition of playful imagination and emotional realism as people play with slime and sand upon which a scene of the band performing is projected.
The later half of the album features two re-releases of fan-favorite songs, Duet and Bus Bus Train Train. In a recent interview with FaceCulture, Kline explained that the two song were rearranged for live performances, prompting their second release on Vessel. They indeed sound more refined than their original forms with notably more cultivated instrumentals. Vessel end with its title track, where Kline explores the changes that have met her during her musical career. She sings, “Nothing comes natural/ I don’t feel my/ body is a vessel/ but you seem to,” returning to her resistance to other’s projection of a larger-than-us meaning onto her work as a musician.
Vessel comes as a strong release for Frankie Cosmos, with consistent themes and seasoned, assertive instrumentals that demonstrate the musical prowess of the group unparaled by their previous releases.
Frankie Cosmos is playing at Fairmount Theatre with Florist and Lala Lala on May 4th. Tickets HERE.