There’s something strikingly immediate about the work of a writer with a knack for injecting existential weight into the humdrum moments that comprise our day-to-day lives. Greta Kline, the woman behind Frankie Cosmos, is one of these unique human beings. Her lyrical output is remarkably understated - almost simple at times - a mirage of youthful idealism and naivety marked by the unmistakable stains of early adulthood apathy and worldly disillusion.
The full-length follow up to 2014’s ‘Zentropy’, ‘Next Thing’ is littered with moments of brutally honest observation packaged in the form of quickly accessible, punchy, pop-rock tracks. In addition to all her whimsical anecdotes about drinking coffee, watching David Blaine, and taking pictures of dogs, Kline is now more than ever wringing out every drop of emotional juice from the sensitive songs she makes as Frankie Cosmos.
On ‘Is It Possible/Sleep Song’, Kline is laid bare by lines like “I guess, I just make myself the victim like you said / That’s why when you treat me shitty you get mad.” Punctuated by a throbbing bassline and measured drumming, the track is a definite notch in Kline’s songwriting belt, and elegantly complements some of the lighter tracks on ‘Next Thing’. Take the opener, for example: ‘Floated In’ feels like a tender invitation to enter into Kline’s twee universe for a little while; she matter-of-factly croons out “I floated in and started living,” conjuring images of pillowy clouds and absent-minded wait-till-tomorrows.
Lead single ‘On the Lips’ is equally catchy, and much like the rest of Kline’s work, doesn’t overstay its welcome. If anything, it leaves us wanting more - Kline’s tendency toward sub two-minute snapshots is simultaneously frustrating and endearing. You have to wonder how Frankie Cosmos might evolve if Kline took more liberties with, say, an unapologetically long guitar solo every now and then. Still, Kline has made these brief moment capturing sketches distinctly hers, and that in itself is undeniably refreshing.
Elsewhere, ‘Fool’, which combines a strong baseline and variable drumming with colourful guitar licks, not to mention ‘Embody’ and ‘Too Dark’, do well to give the record a melodic sheen, and when placed alongside quicker, more aggressive numbers like ‘Sinister’ and ‘What If’, allow Greta Kline to show off the impressive range of songs she’s become remarkably adept at producing.
With her irresistible warble and unmistakable delivery, 21-year-old indie songstress Greta Kline has done well to carve out a niche that is distinctly her own in the remarkably redundant world of guitar-driven pop music. For all its touching and personal lyrical matter, ‘Next Thing’ undoubtedly boasts improved production and more developed song-structures, as well as a more fluid use of warm synths and punchy snare drums. Mix in (more than) a few songs about her friendship with her old pet dog, Joe Joe, an ongoing narrative (Frankie & Ronnie), and a dash of whimsical charm, and you get an artist that is as talented as she is capable of holding the close attention of her audiences. For Frankie Cosmos, ‘Next Thing’ represents a clear and decisive step forward.
Words: Noveen Bajpai
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