By Maddie Farr ’18
This post is part of a series of reviews of Frankie Cosmos’s numerous Bandcamp albums.
songs about HIM is a sad little album, recorded back in 2012 when Greta Kline still used the name “ingrid superstar” (as opposed to her current “frankie cosmos”). That is one of the reasons this album has been lost amid the discography of frankie cosmos; others include its slim length (four tracks, six minutes), its low recording quality, and its even lower volume (you must listen to this album with your volume turned 100% up to hear anything at all). And yet every word, every fumble in songs about HIM is intentional, valuable, and worth the effort. Even at this early stage of her career, the elements that make frankie cosmos who she is as a songwriter and performer — her quiet, heartbreaking lyrics, her powerfully minimal guitar, her inclusion of ordinary sounds like beeps or breaths while recording — are already present.
I think I connect especially with this record because it is truly a short story, important and intelligible only to the songwriter. Greta Kline is, as always, absolutely truthful and totally cryptic at the same time. And yet the themes of longing for someone you can’t have or doesn’t want you, of knowing you care far too much for it to make sense, come across perfectly.
The heart of the album is the song “around and around,” the title of which aptly describes its structure. The song loops from line to line, from small musings to a gaze caught at a party to a day on a beach. It tells of anxieties and crushes and wishes and worries with no conclusion, except that given by the audible click of the “stop” button on frankie’s computer.
Yet for me, the true gem of songs about HIM is frankie cosmos’s cover of Bob Dylan’s “Don’t Think Twice, It’s All Right.” Of course I am a fan of Dylan and his version, but hearing frankie cosmos sing this song is immediately relatable and achingly painful. Like Dylan’s original, this is a song for anyone who has been treated poorly but doesn’t have the willpower to be truly angry, only sad. But in frankie’s hands, it becomes a song specifically for that teenage girl who has been treated poorly, who is sad but doesn’t feel she has any right to be. That girl deserves a song, and this is it.