Frankie Cosmos’ Vessel is the kind of record I feel obligated to write about (since the last Frankie Cosmos album was my #3 album of 2016), but I’m not sure what to write about it. There really isn’t anything particularly different about it from the minutely awesome The Next Thing. Greta Kline’s songs here are just as simultaneously hushed and pulsating as ever, while she still seems quite overwhelmed by the world outside her bedroom, with little desire to do much else other than write a concise, poppy song about it.
I’m struggling to frame any of this as anything else than muted disappointment, which probably isn’t fair. There are some really good songs here, some of which build just a little bit on the musical complexity of Kline’s early releases, like the alternately rocking and somber “Jesse”. Also, you could possibly make the case that Vessel sees Kline expanding the scope of her distinctly small and intimate sound, with it’s sprawling 18 tracks. But then again, there isn’t anything terribly sprawling about it when you take into account that nearly every song is about a minute or two of fast and breezy pop.
The thing I’m really mulling over in regards to this record is whether it matters that the world was a noticeably different place when Frankie Cosmos’ last record arrived in early 2016. Now, it feels like music this steeped in small, twee-ish minutiae just doesn’t quite pack the same charm as it did two years ago. Especially when there’s been little done to break out of what originally made Frankie Cosmos’ prickly sweetness so darn appealing.
But, then again, I’m sure people said the same kind of crap after Wes Anderson’s first few movies. Meanwhile, he’s turned around and continued to make charming gems like Isle of Dogs (which I wish someone besides myself would review on this blog) that don’t necessarily stray too far from his signature aesthetic. And maybe that’s what Frankie Cosmos will become – an artist whose work will all feel of a piece eventually. Because the songwriting craft is certainly there, it’s just hard to see the big picture of what this artist is going for when the (admittedly winning) formula remains the same.
Favorite Tracks: “This Stuff”, “Jesse”, “Being Alive”