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Caroline Polachek:
Desire, I Want to Turn Into You

I have never had writer’s block quite like this when reviewing an album. I have spent weeks sitting on my thoughts, trying to marinate my mind with the record and its use of sound. It’s so familiar, until it isn’t. There are clear references to music past but it is also not like anything I have heard before. Desire, I Want to Turn Into You is a lovely contradiction, a world of beauty and dissonance, inviting and rejecting the listener from the imperfectly perfect island that is Caroline Polachek.

The record is a Pandora’s box; once you open it, it unleashes something you can’t turn away from. Polachek’s vocals in the opener act like a siren’s call, attracting the listener to her bizarre otherworldly island. (Note: after receiving this insight, I learned that much of her work is inspired by Greek Mythology.

She communicates this implicitly in her work.) Immediately, there is a shift as she speaks in a monotone, robotic way, “welcome to my island…hope you like me, you ain’t leaving.” It’s a mix of beautiful and off-putting that I have not experienced since an Imogen Heap album.

In that, the record has plenty of inspiration: It has the catchiness of a Tegan and Sara record, with “Bunny is a Rider” sounding like it could have been a sister song to Drake’s “One Dance.” Moreover, it has the vocal prowess and electronic experimentation of Imogen Heap with the groove and autotune usage of Cher.

Though you can tell the impact of previous musicians, there are also moments of a clear separate musical identity. “Hopedrunk Everasking” not only sounds like an Enya track, but has a literal smoke detector going off during the first verse. There is a church bell motif that seamlessly ties together “Fly to You” and “Blood and Butter.” “Sunset,” one of my favorite tracks this year, utilizes an uber-catchy, Ennio Moricone-esque guitar part that is straight out of Legend of Zelda (see “Gerudo Valley”). Musical ideas introduced in the second track are revisited in the second-to-last. There is a clear and present expertise that radiates throughout the album.

As the record fades out, you are left wondering what exactly you just listened to. It begs multiple listens, not because the album is too short (it is, in fact, the perfect length), but because it is rich in content. In that respect, I would encourage diving into Polachek’s mind further; read or watch some interviews, go though track by track analyzing the lyrics.

There is so much to this album that I cannot put in a brief review. With that, though the year is still young, this record is a clear contender for album of the year.

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