Frankie Cosmos – Vessel

Vessel, the latest offering from Greta Kline’s alter ego Frankie Cosmos, clocks in at almost double the length of her debut Zentropy and could be considered her 18-track magnum opus. Her distinctive songwriting voice is enriched with the lo-fi indie-pop instrumentation of her bandmates – bassist/vocalist David Maine, keyboardist/vocalist Lauren Martin and drummer Luke Pyenson – to create a great record.

The deeply personal release sees the New York native share a bounty of her innermost thoughts and experiences from the past few years. She was initially born out of an era where bedroom recording and self-releasing became more possible than ever through the advent of the internet. However, as she’s grown as a writer and performer, she’s gradually played to larger audiences and devised more complex albums. Vessel is the culmination of this.

The album’s opening track ‘Caramelize’ sets the scene of the record, alluding to topics like dependency, growth, and love which reoccur throughout the album. ‘Apathy’ then touches on some of these ideas with its stomping drums that juxtapose brilliantly against her soft vocal delivery before the minute long ‘As Often as I Can’ features only one lyric: “I love you so/I let you know as often as I can.”

‘This Stuff’, meanwhile, also has simple yet powerful lyrics that are deeply personal to her. Whilst in first single ‘Jesse’, she grapples with the startling personal epiphanies in life that stem from dreams and subconscious realisations. This is before ‘Duet’ and ‘Accommodate’s vintage pop deal with the complexity of being in a community that would rather turn its nose to a problem than hold its members accountable.

A more caring and susceptible side is revealed for ‘I’m Fried’ as Kline regretfully sings about moving away from what she loves. The rhythmic underbelly of ‘Hereby’ then comes along in one of the LP’s stand out moments, with each instrumental part given its own stage. The halfway point then greets ‘Ballad of R & J’ in which dual vocals bring along a different aspect, whilst ‘Ur Up’ presents a neat piano hook to the listener.

‘Being Alive’, meanwhile, stands out as one of the few old Bandcamp-era Frankie Cosmos songs the band reworked for Vessel, and shows the rhythm section quickly shifting between fast and slow tempos as Kline ponders the minutia of existence. Her dissonant lyrics are paired with the band’s grooves creating several moments on the album where the bandmates’ chemistry playing together is brought to the forefront.

‘My Phone’ then references millennials’ dependence on phones and their unreliability in a song that even exhibits shades of rare humour before the heavier ‘Cafeteria’ and ‘The End’ do nothing much but fill a gap. However, ‘Same Thing’ brings the quality level back despite its short 90-second lifespan.With this album, Kline should now become a genuine big player the indie-folk scene. Her lyrics are beautifully honest, her instrumentation is unique and, whilst it may be three or four tracks too long, it will still go down as her best record yet.

Paul Hill