Frankie Cosmos, “Vessel”

Frankie Cosmos
Vessel
SUB POP
8/10

When Frankie Cosmos’s Greta Kline confesses that “nothing comes natural” on the title track of her third studio album, Vessel, it’s a bit ironic: With a Bandcamp page listing fifty-two releases, the New York phenom’s undying creative output seems innate. Kline has since begun to carry the weight of DIY celebrity, articulating on this, her most dynamic album to date, the struggles of giving herself away in intimate relationships—in addition to the ones she shares with fans. Reflecting on the confines of humanness, Vessel is a soliloquy written by Kline, supported by friends, and made as an edifying space for us—as much as for Kline herself—to live in.

Most of Vessel’s tracks begin simply, mirroring the acoustic charm of 2016’s Next Thing, yet as they progress there’s a nuanced sparkle of fingerpicking and background harmonies that allow for Kline’s raptures of rejection or intimacy to glow. When she asserts, “I’m not like anyone else my age” on the chorus of “This Stuff,” the accompanied vocal harmonies shimmer behind her, re-emphasizing her feeling of isolation while simultaneously confirming that unique narcissism existing within all of us, even if we don’t realize it.

The eighteen tracks of Vessel are warm and endearing—a hodgepodge of contemplations on love at its best and worst. “Duet” finds Kline professing a rose-tinted infatuation with a blue-eyed lover; “Makin’ a list of people to kiss / The list is a million yous long,” she sings in a glossy, hushed tone. As Kline has noted, several of the older tracks, including “Duet,” are retroactively melancholic and reveal the toxic, saccharine trappings of love.

Vessel isn’t contained by an overarching personal narrative or a central idea; instead, it’s a collection of short tracks from 2014 to late 2016, and it’s a fine collaboration between bassist David Maine, keyboardist Lauren Martin, and drummer Luke Pyenson. There are various motifs and threads that keep the album whole—from Kline’s juxtaposition and wordplay of brown and blue eyes (“Caramelize,” “Duet”) and feeling the confines of our embodying flesh through taxidermy or beauty standards (“Bus Bus Train Train,” “Accommodate”) to dealing with lustful temptation or apathetic deterioration (“Being Alive,” “Apathy”). But ultimately, Vessel is proof of Kline’s growth: the band’s instrumental expansion highlights her viscerally grounded songwriting about the many shades of being human. 

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