by Iris Cotrupi
God, I hate the winter. Irrefutably, Caroline Polachek’s fourth studio album; Desire, I Want To Turn Into You is the only good thing to happen this winter. Like a little Valentine’s gift, Caroline Polachek soothed our broken hearts this February 14th with a self-described “maximalist” record. The album title holds a dual meaning and is as exactly as romantic as you want it to be. Firstly, It can be read as being about the ‘you’. That feeling of falling in love, of wanting to obsessively learn from and become another person. On the other hand, Polachek posits that maybe desire is the thing you want to turn into itself. The album is very Caroline; poppy, choppy and cheeky. It’s supported by five singles, consisting of seven new songs and one collaboration with Grimes and Dido. The record was produced with contributions by Jim E Stack, A.G. Cook, Sega Bodega, Danny L Harle and Ariel Rechtshaid.
Opening the record with an established favorite, “Welcome to My Island” shows off her biting lyricism and collaborative nature with the help of Daniel Nigro (wrote for Carly Rae Jepsen!) and Jim E Stack. Already a pop native, Caroline Polachek decidedly steered away from precise and constant melodies with this project. She showcases a desire to bend notes and sound in what she describes as an expressive approach rather than a composerly one. As a listener you can almost see the audio take winding turns and sharp corners as it makes its way back to you. The result is a heavily-contoured listening experience. Far less dance-inducing than I was expecting upon first listen – But the more I shuffled the more I heard. Polachek employs a children’s choir on “Billions,” a Spanish guitar on “Sunset,” and dembow on others. The album lets us see inside her brain a little bit, and for about forty-five minutes, it makes some sense.
On “Pretty In Possible,” Caroline Polachek creates a suspenseful track that sounds a little bit like the MarioKart 8 Original Soundtrack. The song is highly experimental, with no verses or choruses, just a looping melody. The listening experience resembles lending an ear to a friend’s train of thought. This is my personal favorite song on the album and I particularly love the strings at the end, inspired by Massive Attack’s “Unfinished Sympathy.”
Caroline Polachek’s production resume is undeniably impressive, with work for artists ranging from Travis Scott to Blood Orange, but Desire, I Want To Turn Into You officially makes her scope lethal. She’s never pretended to be anyone else, except maybe her aliases Ramona Lisa and CEP. She’s been in a league of her own for years – never forget her 2014 Grammy nomination for her production on Beyonce’s album! I’ve never owned a record player in my entire life, and her solo debut album Pang is the only record I possess in this world. The dirt on the bottom of her shoes gets five stars in my eyes – so maybe I’m the most biased person on this planet to review any of her work. Her writing is one part esoteric to one part cheeky, and her compositions are ceaselessly unexpected. Caroline Polachek is aging gracefully, and her musical maturation is a joy to watch. Please consider Desire, I Want To Turn Into You the next time you need some time away from your own brain.