Originally from the DIY indie scene growing out of the online music community of Bandcamp, Frankie Cosmos is the artistic moniker of NYC-based singer/songwriter Greta Kline. If you head to her page, Kline has built an impressively large discography by publishing songs almost instantly after completing them, seemingly without much care of public reception. This style of music distribution attributes to some of the charm her project emanates, as most songs feature Kline and accompaniment unaltered and raw, relishing the human element of music altogether. At over 50 albums deep, most of her work encompasses short bursts of melodies and narratives with hidden gems scattered all around, with other aliases such as Franklin Cosmos, Ingrid Superstar, and Zebu Flur.
Her 2014 label debut, entitled Zentrophy, saw Frankie Cosmos exploring the range and possibility of a full band, where lighthearted songs like “School” and “Birthday Song” struck a chord with a wider audience than previous works. The album was even named by multiple publishers as one of 2014’s best releases, showing Kline that her music was more than a personal patch. On 2016’s Next Thing, Frankie Cosmos moves towards a more professional fashion, capturing the essence of growing past teenage years with heightened production and tightened arrangements of older classics from previous bandcamp sessions.
Oddly poetic in their delivery, Kline’s lyrics consist of the most natural and simplistic subjects, from her dog to love in general, but seem to maintain a wonderfully elaborate sense of connection and consciousness. She charms listeners while offering a keenly transcendental lens on living as a 20-something in the big apple. “What If” sees Kline speculating on the future as she asks her partner, “what would you do for our kids?” Astute observations such as, “When you’re young, you’re too young / and when you’re old, you’re too old” on “If I Had a Dog” find her commenting on the nature of living. Kline seems all too real and genuine to believe, but that’s exactly the kind of game Frankie Cosmos plays.
Besides for maturing lyrically, Kline has honed her lo-fi sound whilst simultaneously branching out to add more depth. Glittering synths fill “Outside with the Cuties” and “I’m 20”, while “Is It Possible/Sleep Song” combines two separate songs altogether (which also contains my favorite line from the album: “goodbye forever / what the fuck?”). “Interlude” doesn’t even have a guitar present, and “O Dreaded C Town” shimmers with rain-like texture.
This maturation may be due to the newfound element of a critical audience not present before, but Kline doesn’t seem to halt under the corporate pressure, maintaining all the likeness and viability of her signature sound without compromising at any point. Nothing on the record seems to be filler (although in a Bandcamp interview, she does admit to having many filler songs unreleased, citing it as a “weird” occurrence), which allows for a breezy flow of songs, much like the car ride fronting the album artwork. Each song seems fleshed out without straining quality, showing experienced restraint. For me, this is also one of the very few faults on the record: I want more! Next Thing definitely cures my Frankie Cosmos fix, but also fuels the addiction further.
All in all, Next Thing adds more fire to the flame as a more accessible entrance into the world of Frankie Cosmos for newcomers, while providing equal quality and longevity for dedicated fans. Next Thing also proves that Greta Kline and co. mean business, even if her music is made to enjoy in leisure. If anything, this release legitimizes Kline as one of indie music’s heavy hitters for 2016 and beyond, and frankly (ha), that excites me a lot.
Top Tracks: “Too Dark”, “Sappho”, “Outside with the Cuties”