‘Vessel’ makes for a mature album without any pretense or fussiness, just unadulterated feeling
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On her third official full-length following over 50 independent releases on Bandcamp, 24 year old Greta Kline, better known as Frankie Cosmos, has done a lot of growing over her years. Her music has grown and flourished with it, and on their debut with Sub Pop Records ‘Vessel,’ Frankie Cosmos’ sunny optimism has been replaced with bitter doses of reality, inner unsettlement, and apathy mixed with the candid observations that pepper all of her lyrics. ‘Vessel’ is probably the first Frankie Cosmos album to have audible grit and tension, and when mixed with the band’s buoyant indiepop, it shows that childlike earnestness can be the best outlook when fighting through life’s rough patches.
Clocking in at 18 tracks and 33 minutes long, ‘Vessel’ is nearly double the length of their previous releases. The band works efficiently, with only two songs going over three minutes and most of them keeping under two. With quick little melodies strewn throughout, ‘Vessel’ recalls the short vignettes that made up the band’s independent bedroom releases. Though many of these sub- one minute jingles may be written off as too cutesy by the casual listener, long standing fans of the NYC DIY icons know that the shortest songs have the most direct messages. The piano plunks and false start to ‘Ur Up’ shows Kline breaking out of her character slightly before pondering about those who aren’t thinking about her the same way, “I wonder if you’re up/ I am America/ Thinking of you for no reason.” ‘Bus Bus Train Train’ juxtaposes a near nursery rhyme sing along with feelings of teetering between stagnancy and adventure, “Bus bus, train train, makes me feel like I’m going far away.”
Even with an artillery of short ditties, these songs all flesh out to a band that sounds fuller than ever before. Inspired by the independent K-Records and New York’s anti-folk scene, Frankie Cosmos has always had a punk spirit beneath it’s cheery exterior, but the power struggle between Kline and what she cannot control adds a sneering, roughened up edge to the jaunty melodies. Kline admits to the bitter satisfaction of breaking off a relationship on the album’s lead single ‘Jesse,’ “I created a scorpion, And then had to kill it, Just like I loved you, And I had to will it to end.” But she is most clearly fighting this power struggle on ‘Apathy,’ where she admits “I just want to feel like I’m neatly designed, Like a telephone pole,I want to feel whole.’
The past albums from Frankie Cosmos have often been dotted with references to the band’s home in New York City, and spoke to the small feelings that encompass the cities unique experiences like spending a spring day leafing through books outside The Strand or getting splashes with rain by a passing bus, but ‘Vessel’ speaks more to the space we take up in ourselves rather than one’s physical sense of place. The track “Accommodate” speaks these types of inner struggles the most, when the driving, plucky song fades out, then Frankie’s voice yelps over the silence, “My body is a burden, I’m always yearning to be less accommodating, and to say what I’m feeling.”
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Although ‘Vessel’ has not received the widespread acclaim of the band’s first two full-lengths, the effort carried some of Frankie Cosmos’ most relatable and emotive songs yet. And while the band’s bouncy sound has remained consistent throughout their discography, the emotional grit packed onto ‘Vessel’ makes for a mature album without any pretense or fussiness, just unadulterated feeling.
‘Vessel’ is out now on Sub Pop Records. The entire track list is listed below.
01 Caramelize 02 Apathy 03 As Often as I Can 04 This Stuff 05 Jesse 06 Duet 07 Accommodate 08 I’m Fried 09 Hereby 10 Ballad of R & J 11 Ur Up 12 Being Alive 13 Bus Bus Train Train 14 My Phone 15 Cafeteria 16 The End 17 Same Thing 18 Vessel
You can see Frankie Cosmos at one of the following venues…
Tuesday 22nd May – Kantine am Berghain, Berlin, Germany
Wednesday 23rd May – Aalhaus, Hamburg, Germany
Thursday 24th May – DOKbox, Ghent, Belgium
Friday 25th May – London Calling at Paradiso, Amsterdam, Netherlands
Saturday 26th May – Petit Bain, Paris, France
Monday 28th May – Gorilla, Manchester
Tuesday 29th May – The Art School, Glasgow
Wednesday 30th May – The Fleece, Bristol
Thursday 31st May – Scala, London
Friday 1st June – Aeronef, Lille, France
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