Posted: March 23, 2018 in ALBUMS, MUSIC
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Frankie Cosmos‘ new album, Vessel, is available for release on the 30th March from  Sub Pop Records. While listening to the album you can also read along to this new feature on Pitchfork where Greta gives a short breakdown of every song on the album. The New York-native songwriter Greta Kline has shared a bounty of her innermost thoughts and experiences via the massive number of songs she has released since 2011. Like many of her peers, Kline’s prolific output was initially born from the ease of bedroom recording and self-releasing offered by digital technology and the internet. But, as she’s grown as a writer and performer, devising more complex albums and playing to larger audiences, Kline has begun to make her mark on the indie scene.
Her newest record, Vessel, is the 52nd release from Kline and the third studio album by her indie pop outfit Frankie Cosmos. On it, Kline explores all of the changes that have come in her life as a result of the music she has shared with the world, as well as the parts of her life that have remained irrevocable. Frankie Cosmos has taken several different shapes since their first full-band album, 2014’s Zentropy, erupted in New York’s DIY music scene. For the band’s lineup comprises multi-instrumentalists David Maine, Lauren Martin, Luke Pyenson, and Kline. The album’s 18 tracks employ a range of instrumentations and recording methods not found on the band’s prior albums, while maintaining the succinctly sincere nature of Kline’s songwriting.

1. “Caramelize”

Pitchfork: You talk a lot about light and grace and goodness on this song. It’s like the Gospel of Greta.

Greta Kline: I’m not trying to go for a spiritual vibe on this one, but I’ve always really liked religious language, and I read the Bible as literature in school. It’s so huge, but also specific. Spiritual words are used over and over again, so they become bigger than a single word, and this song has a little bit of that. The “you” changes throughout, and it’s about so many different kinds of relationships, and parts of my life, and how they’re patched together.

I actually have a lot of fans that are really religious. There were these students in a priest school who messaged me on Facebook five years ago telling me they loved my music. It’s weird, because I feel that some of my songs are almost too irreverent for that, but it’s cool that anyone can hear their own thing in them.

2. “Apathy”

One line in this song really stands out to me: “I just want to feel like I’m neatly designed/Like a telephone pole.” What inspired your writing here?

I wrote that lyric when I was on tour feeling crazy and wishing that I had a clear purpose that I was designed for; I was in a car driving past a bunch of telephone poles, which are perfectly built. When I hear that line, I think “Oh yeah, duh.” It’s not super poetic. I love poetry, but I’m more inspired by the small moments throughout my life that have meaning. I went through a weird archiving phase when I was younger, where I wanted to capture it all. I was so fixated on archiving my friendships, and my thoughts, my everything. That was kind of how Frankie Cosmos started.

3. “As Often as I Can”

You address your listeners here, telling them, “I love you.”

I love interacting with the audience onstage and telling them, “I love you.” That’s part of why I put that in, because it’s so fun to get to say that out loud to different people every night.

4. “This Stuff”

There’s a lyric from this song that I found funny and kind of sad: “I’m living in a condo/It replaced your favorite movie theater though.”

I feel like a cheater, because someone else told me that story. But the poetic part is me choosing to put it in the song, right? I remember walking around with a friend, and they talked about how their favorite movie theater was being turned into a condo. That’s not funny, but it would make a funny line: That living there would destroy the thing that someone you love also loves.

5. “Jesse”

Why did you guys decide this should be the first single from Vessel? It sounds bigger than most Frankie Cosmos songs.

It’s one of my favorite songs on the record. It also has five instruments, the usual four plus an extra guitar, which is exciting and new. Having someone who was not in the band write a second guitar part for a song was scary, and it took me accepting that the song wasn’t going to sound the same live. Our records are almost like recorded versions of our live set, and I don’t like having a bunch of parts on the record that we can’t achieve live. So coming to terms with the live set being different from the album arrangement was a big part of letting the sound get a little bigger.


You originally released this song in 2014, and you revived some old songs on your last album as well. How do you decide which ones to revisit?

We do it because certain old songs get requested at shows, and we feel like we have to make band versions later. But the more I revisit those old songs, the more they take on different meanings. It’s like reading your old diary, and thinking “wow” at how specific it was. There’s this whole emotional experience to re-learning my old songs, and there are a lot of realizations about my life back then that I can only make now.

7. “Accommodate”

In this song you introduce the idea of how the body can fail you when you need it.

A lot of this album is about this feeling of disconnect between myself and my body, but on “Accommodate,” I’m describing the experience of being a woman; what being born into this body means for the rest of my experience in the world. I really think that my body was not meant to exist in this atmosphere. I’m allergic to everything and I’m weak! Is your body a part of who you are or does it contain all of who you are? Does it stop you from fully being yourself? I don’t know.

8. “I’m Fried”

The lyric “I just wanna know that I would walk away from wrong” stands out to me. What does that mean to you?

For a long time, I wasn’t giving enough love to myself, and it made me so tired. I was like, “I need to figure out how to take care of myself.” “I’m Fried” is all about that, so the line is about wanting to know that I’m gonna be looking out for myself. Not that I’m gonna walk away from being a bad person, but knowing that I’m not going to get myself into situations that are harmful.

9. “Hereby”

This is the halfway point of the album, and it’s the most heartbreaking song on here. Were you aiming to structure the record to have that hurt come midway through?

We thought it’d be a good end to Side A. It’s harsh, and feels like a punctuation mark to the section. It’s also written almost entirely in words that were pulled from a contract. The lyrics are in a very legal language. It was funny to write in this cold way about this sad, personal moment. It’s like, “Here are the facts: I will not be your friend.”

10. “Ballad of R & J”

As opposed to the other songs on the album, this one is a narrative with fictional characters and a story arc.

The song is about being far away from the person you love and not being able to tell if they actually love you. The story was so sad that I refused to sing it, which is why my bandmates sing the choruses. It’s the only Frankie Cosmos song, ever, probably, where I don’t sing the whole thing. The characters in the song, Julie and Ricky, aren’t exactly based on my past relationships, but I wanted to explore who they could be and what they meant to each other. When a feeling is really big and hard to face within myself, I can use fictional narratives to deal with it, and write about it without having to actually ask myself how I’m feeling. It’s the songwriting equivalent of “asking for a friend.”

11. “Ur Up”

At the beginning of this track, you can hear someone in the background telling you the tape is rolling, and you mess up on the piano a little bit. It’s one of the most intimate moments on the album.

I liked keeping the mess-up in there because I love how sweet Hunter [Davidsohn], our recording engineer, sounds when he says, “No, keep going, it’s good.” It’s a little glimpse into the tender moments in the studio.

12. “Being Alive”

There are all these super fast tempo changes on this song.

Our drummer Luke [Pyenson] is very fancy! I can’t remember exactly what happened with arranging “Being Alive,” but my best guess would be to give Luke credit for the tempo. And since forming this band, I’ve gotten way more comfortable singing and messing around on guitar. I’ve been able to come up with really different stuff than I would have on Zentropy.

13. “Bus Bus Train Train”

Your dog, Joe Joe, seems to float throughout so much of your music. Here, he appears as a taxidermy sculpture in a museum.

He’s my best friend and the reason I never moved away from New York. I wanted to be here and spend time with him while he was still alive. Then he died my first year of college, so I was like, “Great.” That one part in this song came from a trip to RISD—I was visiting a friend, and there was this weird room where they had with all these taxidermy animals. But I also think that line is about trying to find him, and trying to find home, wherever I am in the world. For me, Joe Joe represents home.

So I don’t think that line is morbid, and I don’t even feel sad talking about him, because it really feels like he’s alive. This is going to sound really freaky, but I feel like part of his soul entered me when he died, and now I’m part dog. When I make eye contact, dogs will run, pulling their owners towards me to hang out. I feel like I’m almost one of them.

14. “My Phone”

The message of this one—about trying to keep relationships offline—is super relatable. Do you think love can rise above the need to be plugged in all the time?

Real love obviously goes infinitely deeper than technology, and you should be able to feel loved by someone, give love, and have them trust you without having to constantly be texting. I’m a really slow texter, and I’m really bad at responding to people, and none of that matters when you’re hanging out in person. But as a touring musician, I do spend a lot of time on my phone. So many of my relationships exist there, and sometimes feel like I only have friends because I’m texting them or seeing them on Instagram. It’s a weird way to exist.

15. “Cafeteria”

This is a secretly dark one: There’s all these feelings of doubt hidden right beneath this bright sound.

Lots of life is constantly putting on a brave face and not exactly giving everyone the true experience of what you’re feeling. So my songs are a fun place to sneak in those thoughts, right underneath a happy melody, or make something that sounds like a love song but is actually really sad. And “Cafeteria” is so fun to play because it’s all this bouncing around, and it has my favorite lyrics to sing live: “I had sex once, now I’m dead.” It’s insane to be on stage and see everyone get so quiet after I sing that. I always imagine that people can tell that it’s funny. But in my head, I’m almost waiting, wondering: “Are people gonna laugh at that line?”

16. “The End”

This sounds almost like an old Frankie Cosmos song, like a rough demo uploaded straight to Bandcamp.

I recorded it a day after a breakup, right into my computer mic. It’s pure emotion, and not thought through at all. I hadn’t figured out my future, or plans for later. I was sitting alone in this room that I shared with this person who doesn’t love me anymore, and I was like, “Gotta move.”

Did you try to edit or spruce up the song later?

Trust me, if I had recorded it a month later, it would have different lyrics. Because the feeling was so pure and fast. We tried to arrange it with the band, but I was like, “Let’s not waste any more time on this, the demo’s going on the album.” I had this intense feeling that it had to be the demo. It’s my first ever GarageBand song that made it onto vinyl. It was so exciting when I got the test pressing and heard this. I was freaking out.

17. “Same Thing”

Your music has been described as being like an elliptical, musical run-on sentence, and this song feels that way.

This makes me think of the bio for our press release. We were talking about what should go in it, and why we think that people should listen to this album, and I was like, “I don’t. I don’t care.” [laughs] Ultimately, there’s nothing that makes this album more special than any other of the albums. The idea is it’s another chapter, and there’s gonna be a million more. Yes, it’s special to me right now, but it’s also not as important as the 50 new songs I’ve written since. So I don’t know how to promote it, because I’m a person who’s writing a bunch of music all the time, and I’m hopefully gonna do it for many more years. This is just one episode, and I think that’s cool!

18. “Vessel”

How did this become the title for the record?

I had been thinking about the concept of vessels, and it applies to a lot of things I deal with on the album: Not feeling like a woman and not feeling like I was made to make babies; not feeling like a vessel for my art and being projected onto; not feeling like being a performer comes naturally to me. All this relates to how my body is here to support me or hinder me. The other part of it is that this song is partly about being in a band and making music with other people. A lot of this record is about making music.

thanks Pitchfork for the interview

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