by Chris Hatch
After an abundant back catalogue of charming, lo-fi pop brought them to the indie world’s attention, there was a quiet sense of anticipation when Frankie Cosmos signed to Sub Pop and announced the release of album, Vessel, last year. Here was the chance to really polish up some of the rough edges, fill in some of the cracks, and maybe even take the leap to more adventurous, riskier territory that home-recording limitations had not previously afforded to Greta Kline (main song-writer, and driving force behind Frankie Cosmos). Instead, despite an extra surface layer of sheen, Vessel felt a little bit too much like paint-by-numbers Frankie Cosmos… and at first glance it seems Close It Quietly follows in pretty much the same vein.
From the word go, the old hallmarks of Frankie Cosmos are apparent – the sub-three minute track lengths, the catchy, upbeat melodies, and the plainly matter-of-fact innocence of Kline’s vocals – but that’s not to say this is a bad thing. While a little formulaic and predictable, Frankie Cosmos do this kind of simple, instant indie pop perfectly – each song ending just before its ear worm manages to bury itself into the brain. There’s a sense that, as a band, Frankie Cosmos are happy in the skin they’re in; they enjoy making this kind of music, this is their voice, and they are getting better at it. So why be something they’re not?
Despite this, they haven’t entirely stood still. Frankie Cosmos are evolving, but it’s at the molecular level. Close It Quietly is without doubt the most well rounded, and fullest the band have sounded – having made a conscious effort to make this album a more collaborative affair has paid off, as the likes of lead-single Windows, and the lyrically-perfect Wannago sound more fleshed out, and bigger in their scope – admittedly this isn’t the sweeping grandeur of their stadium-headlining peers, but in Frankie Cosmos terms it is a subtle pushing of the envelope.
Lyrically, there are also small steps outside of their comfort zone – Kline has sung so often in the past about lost loves, and her teenage-diary style musings have seen her cast her opinions outwards. This time Kline often looks inwards, turning the magnifying glass on herself to examine the intricacies of her own personality – see the sumptuous album closer, This Swirling – its outro rather fittingly swirls away in a gently hypnotic, ‘I will die trying, I will die crying, I will cry dying’, soul-baring coda.
In a lot of ways, it’s refreshing that Frankie Cosmos have stuck to their guns, and some credit should go to Sub Pop for giving them license to do so. This isn’t the major label album a lot of music industry observers will have been waiting for from Frankie Cosmos, but it is arguably their best yet. Their creative trajectory has been a gentle one, but thankfully it is still on the up, and with tentative steps towards more introspective lyrics, and a toe-dipped-in-the-water of a bolder sound, Close It Quietly feels like a natural, organic progression. Frankie Cosmos haven’t quite torn up their rule book just yet, but they may have creased a few of its pages.
Secret Meeting score: 80