By Malcolm Bamba
Moving from helicopter ladders on the cover of Caroline Polachek’s 2019 album, Pang — Desire, I Want To Turn Into You, now sees Polachek on the floor of a crowded subway, singing with the confidence and charisma of someone looking to shake up the oh-so-boring pop machine.
Docking into the lush sands of “Welcome to My Island” Polachek presents a masterful navigation between playful and deadpan on this house track. All is possible in “Pretty is Possible,” — a standout with an infectious hook and irresistible palm tree groove.
Throughout the album, Polachek moves through various electronic sound worlds reminiscent of 1990’s Barbie computer games. “Fly to You (Feat. Grimes, Dido)” and “Blood and Butter” illustrate this through robotic-like vocalizations and techno-warrior percussion. “Bunny Is A Rider” is a track that could easily come across like Youtube stock music if not handled by a more charming songwriter. Polachek’s command of quirkily produced songs is on full display in the flamenco inspired “Sunset.”, which is equally evocative in its use of lively synths and fiery percussion.
Heading into “Crude Drawing of An Angel ” brings us back to Cyndi Lauper’s “Time After Time” with its 80’s style synth and textural sparsities. Pulsing beats and haunting synths create an otherworldly atmosphere that sets the tone for the rest of the album.
“Butterfly Net ” is Polachek’s moment to present something more reflective, which she does effectively without losing the energy which has propelled the project thus far. The song is driven by 90’s beats and acoustic guitar, which build to an explosive chorus. Polachek’s lyrics explore the complexities of desire and identity, with a vocal performance that is nothing short of exhilarating.
Not everything is a treasure in an ocean of possibilities — “Hopedrunk Everasking ‘ stands as a less effective ballad — stripped down to Polachek’s voice and a simple piano melody, the track leaves a less fine but forgettable impression in a sea of pearls.
Bora Bora, Bali, and Boracay — Desire, I Want To Turn Into You, is a triumphant summer breeze on Caroline Polachek’s pop island. The album’s bold and ambitious assertion into the established musical canon showcases Polachek’s ability to meld modern sensibilities with avant-garde experimentation. Desire, I Want To Turn Into You is a cohesive, immersive experience that rewards repeated listens and is sure to be remembered as one of the year’s best releases.