Caroline Polachek – Desire, Album Review

Released on Valentine's Day 2023, we dial it back to give Caroline the flowers she deserves.

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Kam Jenkins Music Writer
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Love. That’s what this is all about. New York native Caroline Polachek entered my world a few years back. Her previous album Pang lives as an artistic feat forever in my heart. Yes, I’m being dramatic. Because fuck it. I wholly believe that record is a sonic masterpiece from start to finish. Although not technically her debut solo effort, Pang showed Polachek coming into her own as a craftswoman. Ethereal beds of sound and touching yet relatable lyricism set her apart from the normies. While the topic of love seems to permeate all of her records, its warmth and fuzziness comes full circle on DesireI Want To Turn Into You, seeing Caroline head over heels this time. Rather than displaying gushy, corny romance tropes, she builds a mental love island for two. This person makes her feel as light does shimmering ‘cross the cosmos.

Rich Fury / Getty Images

Despite mastering the art pop aesthetic, Caroline found a way to redefine what makes her work so special. Rarely will one find such a fun little banger such as “Bunny Is A Rider” two songs prior to a distant mating call like “Crude Drawing Of An Angel”. The whole album blends with infinite smoothness. Each track turns into the next as one would with a longtime dance partner. Place your ear’s trust in Polachek and she rewards you with sonic transcendence seldom celebrated in the mainstream. During my first run with Desire back in February, it was as if I couldn’t press pause. The lyrics drew me in. And the soundscapes held me close to her heart. Artistic transparency leads to the most brilliant expressions. Thus with Desire, I Want To Turn Into You, a divine vision of acceptance and vulnerability reveals itself as truth incarnate.

Nedda Asfari

While love reigns supreme here, this theme does not tire throughout the tracklist in my view. The peaks and the valleys. Casting a loving line into an endless void of ocean, praying for reciprocation. On “Fly To You,” Polachek enlists art pop icons Dido and Grimes to help paint this portrait of romance. “I fly to you / after all the tears you’re all I need / I fly to you / Not just somewhere deep inside of me”. This is not simply some fantasy in Caroline’s mind. This is it. A moment everlasting, transmuting regret and uncertainty into potent passion and self-actualization. Following thoughts of her lover, she channels her flaws to make something new, beautiful, and collaborative. However you like your artists’ vocals to sound, I guarantee you won’t forget Polachek’s talents.

More radiance than flash, Desire embodies her entire spectrum of sound up to this point. My top recommendations are “Blood and Butter,” “I Believe,” “Billions,” and “Butterfly Net.” Please, do yourself a favor; relax to the lush frequencies and embracive atmosphere of this praiseworthy endeavor.

Album Review: Caroline Polachek - Desire
Vocal Performance
Brilliant Vocal Control
Song Structure Mastery
Connective Sonic Palette
Some Vague Lyricism

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