The more tracks you work with, the harder it is to make your album feel sustainable. But for Greta Kline and the likes of Frankie Cosmos, an abundance of ideas overrides the usually one-note writing of many similarly tracked records. The touching personality makes each track feel unique and Kline’s unique writing voice cuts through each song to give them a continuous roll of unique moments. Needless to say, 18 tracks will feel short by the end of this album.
Despite the dreamy twang that opens up “Caramelize” Greta Kline’s genius song writing shifts it to a pounding rock with seamless glee. It’s her ability to blend these sounds while still hopping between them though that makes the album such a constant wonder to hear. “Apathy” brings this idea to the forefront, with stomping drums providing a heavy contrast to Kline’s soft vocals. Even with her grime, “As Often As I Can” flutters by with the same grace and harmony of any short Gilmore Girls musical interlude, and with the same charm.
“This Stuff” centers even more on its powerful lyricism, as it crafts a very personal story before expanding its heart. Kline’s ability to cut to humanity’s essence and the memories that make emotions count is just another power that makes her music so memorable, especially on an album as vast as Vessel. The bouncy story of “Jesse” makes you initially question its dark atmosphere, but Kline twists this into a dynamic tool for simple but sharp choruses. “Duet” is admittedly more of a love letter to vintage pop than a wholly original piece, but Kline still manages to inject a weird bit of her modern sensibilities into it surprisingly well.
The chilly synths of “Accomodate” provide the perfect bed for Kline’s most spritely vocals of the record, and leaves enough room for the drums to try some fills they might not get otherwise. “I’m Fried” serves up a more tender and vulnerable side of Kline’s writing, as she regretfully parts from things she loves. There’s a wondrous feel to rhythm of “Hereby” that makes the barebones sound of that comes out of Frankie Cosmos feel strangely focused. As each riff, beat and moment really gets its own time to shine, Kline proves herself as clever as ever.
“Ballad of R & J” brings in dual vocals and more shades of instrumentation, as the band mixes different sides of the same idea to make a song that ticks every box in record time. Kline’s sharp ability to cram fleshed-out ideas across mere seconds is most present in the quaint piano hooks of “Ur Up.” Right next to her strange count-in, “Being Alive” finds Frankie Cosmos at their most heavy and aggressive. They take trippy and slow breaks however that open them up to going all the more ecstatic on each following chorus.
A childlike wonder and lyricism makes “Bus Bus Train Train” as cute as it is mature and sophisticated. Kline ties it all in with her band’s slow spread of details to have the song grow more than most groups muster over five minutes. “My Phone” is a hilariously modern folk-tale of our dependence on phones and their unreliability, showing the band’s humour and a yearning to disconnect from technology. “Cafeteria” burns with the same pained sheen of many of the album’s other rock tracks, although many moments don’t stand out quite as sharply. Across its narrative and more abstract rhythms however, Frankie Cosmos still find enough ideas to make you want to come back to the song.
“The End” barely rings above the tones of a demo, but finds even more charm because of it and lets its little guitar riffs anchor its emotions. This surprising sense of intimacy while present throughout the record, is at its most poignant here as Kline seems to be letting you into a more personal statement. The uneven discordant tones of “Same Thing” make its discontent feel immediate and keeps the song brief and to the point. Though it starts without the same energy as much of the record “Vessel” slowly grows into a mood-piece that shows a sense of personal growth.
Words by Owen Maxwell