Frankie Cosmos has spent the last few years delivering swathes of consistently twee and soft-spoken indie-pop, although last year’s Vessel found a greater sense of polish - and found my attention - thanks to the backing of Sub Pop Records. It’s an aesthetic that should theoretically be right up my alley - but outside of a few highlights, Close It Quietly inexplicably feels like a series of diminishing returns.
39 minutes spanning 21 tracks invites healthy scepticism that some of these ideas are going to be undercooked, but Frankie doesn’t succumb to that notion fully. There is the occasional sub-minute acoustic number, like Self-destruct, that feels more like a first draft than an interlude.
The next minute, Moonsea throws a sly tempo change into the chorus, So Blue flicks on the fuzz pedal, and there’s a glimpse of the smart-as-hell curveballs that Frankie has up her sleeves. It’s fairly untechnical and uniform - outside of the drums, which have improved fills and flourishes since last year’s cuts - but it’s pleasant enough.
What drags the record down as a whole personally is Frankie’s stagnant delivery, not straying far enough from her previous performances to differentiate itself.
Hidden under the vaguely personal lyrics are emotionally hefty sentiments; not wanting to die but not wanting to live in the current world, all-encompassing exes that demean and destabilise, and so on. Yet it’s all recited like a Duplass Brothers movie, mumbled and shrugged off as if it means much less than it actually does - and after a while, you start to believe that.
There are artists - Eels come to mind - who have perfected a formula of music that, while fundamentally listenable and occasionally bordering on greatness, suffocates in its own disaffected nature. Sometimes when “the world is crumbling and I don’t have much to say,” it might be better to let the imagery speak for itself, to swell and recede through the music, to resonate. Close It Quietly is just content with speaking anyways.
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Released: 06 Sep 2019