May 9, 2016
Memories are often not remembered in their entirety but instead as split-second snapshots that zone in upon the heart of the experience. Frankie Cosmos’ follow-up to 2013’s simplistically brilliant “Zentropy” does just that, displaying memories as snapshots through minimalistic, quirky, and soft-spoken indie-pop.
When listening to this collection of 15 tracks, Frankie Cosmos’ voice takes center center stage, and it floats gracefully upon melodies that would be distracting if she did not express them modestly and without undue elaboration. Floating right alongside these well-calculated melodies are Cosmos’ lyrics, which, on a page, resemble verses of concise, accessible poetry.
The album flows with remarkable speed, due to expert track sequencing of songs that rival The Ramones’ in brevity—not a single one surpasses the three-minute mark—with the longest track only two minutes and forty-three seconds in length (“Too Dark”). This characteristic works to Frankie Cosmos’ benefit, as songs of this sort can often be laborious if stretched to an uncomfortable length, and while some may find the length of these tracks unsatisfying, her music may feel like eating fast-food to others—quick and direct, yet hitting all of the sweet spots and not trying too hard to show off.
Cosmos hits her stride with her lyrics, which are personal and existentially pondering. In the song, “On The Lips,” Cosmos considers a possibility but not before attempting to decide on a purpose for seizing the opportunity: “Why would I kiss ya? If I could kiss ya?” Other songs take more direct aim at broader issues. For example, on “If I Had a Dog,” she touches on the sexist notions of people in the music industry: “Everybody says/Your decisions are okay/But here’s a better idea/And a comment not about my brain.”
Cosmos’ musical minimalism is to the benefit of her lyrics and melodies, which float upon the surface of carefully arranged synth, guitar, and drum tracks that deliver quirkiness and appropriate accompaniment to her modest yet captivating vocals. This unostentatious indie-pop minimalism combined with Cosmos’ apparent seriousness and skill at her lyrical craft establishes “Next Thing” as one of the best indie-pop records of this year—if not the decade—so far.