It’s hard to believe that Greta Kline is just 28 years old. The one-time teen princess of New York’s underground anti-folk scene, this is her fifth studio album and with the help of a trusted band that has helped to shape her prolific songwriting into something more refined, it might be the best yet.
During a seemingly indefinited pandemic-induced hiatus Kline continued to write, as she has done her whole life, drawing influence from the early 00’s indie that’s come to define her style. After reconvening with the band when the time was right, Lauren Martin, Luke Pyenson and Alex Bailey were able to add more folk and pop elements and where Kline may have been raw and exciting in her teenage years, her willingness to collaborate makes for a more interesting listen in her late twenties.
Whether Frankie Cosmos would have matured in this manner without the trust they have in each other is a moot point, the fact that Martin, Pyenson and Bailey continue to layer and structure Kline’s songwriting as they have for many years now can only help the final output.
Inner World Peace feels more rounded than previous efforts. There’s a pyschedelic feel to Aftershook in particular, sounding like it’s landed straight from the 1970s (and it works, for the avoidance of doubt). A Work Call has a swirling, repetitive outro that you can imagine their next gigs ending to in a whirl of shaking guitars and dancing feet.
Stick with Magnetic Personality through it’s jittery beginning and it eventually provides more of the energy that Frankie Cosmos have been known for in the past. It’s not as raw as the songs you might have heard on Zentropy or Next Thing, but it certainly feels like more of a song to tap your toe and nod your head to than many on the album.
Kline remains a wickedly funny lyricist, too. Although previous songwriting efforts have been plentiful, she has usually penned lyrics from the back of a tour bus or van. This time around she’s had more time to work creatively and in more comfortable settings – and it shows. “I was raised on writing love songs for someone I hate” she sings on the tender Wayne, one of the more vulnerable tracks on the album. On Prolonging Babyhood, she jokes about the ease of childhood and laments the future – “put my training wheels back on and pour the milk in my coffee.”
Empty Head is a stand-out, but in a way that you perhaps wouldn’t expect. This gentler, five-minute palate cleanser champions the effects of mindfulness and is bookended with a spaced intro and outro the likes of which we wouldn’t have expected on Frankie Cosmos albums of the past. It invites us to take a minute, empty our heads and appreciate this album for what it is.
F.O.O.F is the one of most fun offerings on the album, the long wait ahead of a Freak Out On Friday evokes a bored sunny summer afternoon with little to do but wait for the week to be over and closer Heed The Call is a short, sharp blast of exactly what makes this album so listenable. It’s old-school and new-school Frankie Cosmos. It’s growth, without moving too far away from what made so many fall in love with them in the first place.
As the album title suggests, Inner World Peace is an introspective album at times, as are many of the albums being released in the wake of the pandemic. It’s perhaps not the kind of album you’ll be rushing out to tell everybody you know about, but in it’s exploration of new themes for a band that have mostly toed the line of indie-pop in previous riterations, it is infinitely listenable and hopefully a sign of things to come.
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Written by Dean Smith