Frankie Cosmos: Zentropy

Frankie Cosmos makes excellently witty and crushingly sad indie-pop on her fantastic debut.

Frankie Cosmos


Label: Double Double Whammy
US Release Date: 2014-03-04
UK Release Date: 2014-03-04

The dog dies at the end. Might as well get that out of the way. The fuzzy little guy on the album cover was named Joe Joe and he was Greta Kline’s (AKA Frankie Cosmos) dog. He makes a few appearances on the album, each time Kline pining for his company. Yes this is a pretty depressing album. In the album’s minuscule run time Kline is obsessively self-conscious, discusses what art school does to the mind, and, of course, reminisces over Joe Joe. Perhaps the description comes off as a sad-sack indie release, but Kline is smart and witty enough to make Zentropy an excellent debut.

Kline knows that if these all of these songs were played straight the melancholy would be overwhelming so she inserts a few genuinely funny moments to offset the rest of the album’s feel. Over an adorable background Kline sings "I hate everybody in this town" and a cute chiming cymbal accompanies her upbeat declaration of disgust. She also later proclaims "This isn’t a party!" just when the drums break out into a danceable beat. Kline seems to have a bad track record with parties. She chastises her friends on "Birthday Song" for making such a big deal about it, saying "Just because I am a certain age/Doesn’t mean that I am any older/Than I was yesterday." "Dancing" has Kline singing "If you really love me you will leave me alone/I wanna go dancing."

Even with the few moments of humor Zentropy is a crushingly sad album. Part of it comes from the duality Kline brings to the album with her voice. She seems simultaneously younger and older than her 19 years. When she sings "My daddy is a fireman…/Today he is here/Tomorrow he’s gone," she sounds like a kid, devastated but not fully understanding why her dad has left. Meanwhile when Kline discusses her mother on "Busses" she sounds just as sad, but older. "Look mom I’m hobbling through/I am gonna be a painter to," she sings. The contrast between "Busses" and "Fireman" is the best example of the delicate and rare balance that Zentropy strikes. It melds the insecurities of childhood and adulthood, making an album swamped by the problems inherent to both ages. High school seniors and undeclared-major college students might feel more empathetic towards Kline’s work, but the structure behind her lyrics is great enough for those who land outside that demographic to find enjoyment as well. Along with bandmate Aaron Maine (frontman of the underrated indie group Porches, which Kline also plays in), Kline makes sound foundations for her stories. "Fireman" starts with a bluesy guitar riff only for the song to evolve into a twinkling and spacey piece, "Busses" contains the album’s best guitar work, and the drums quietly hold up most of the songs here. Maine and Kline’s chemistry is fantastic on the vocal end. "Owen" is one of the few songs here that really opens up and explodes in the chorus and Maine and Kline’s voices take on a near country twang as they rocket upward in energetic harmony.

For all the excellent detours it always comes back to the dog. The last two songs on the album are completely dedicated to Joe Joe. "My I Love You" might be the album’s most beautiful track, with strings backing up Kline’s rising, nearly cracking, voice as she repeats "Joe Joe" over and over again. And the appropriately titled ending "Sad" has mesmerizing marimba work and Kline’s final words are "I just want my dog back/Is that so much to ask/I wish that I could kiss his paws." If it’s any consolation for Kline, Joe Joe would have loved the album.


So far J. J. Abrams and Rian Johnson resemble children at play, remaking the films they fell in love with. As an audience, however, we desire a fuller experience.

As recently as the lackluster episodes I-III of the Star Wars saga, the embossed gold logo followed by scrolling prologue text was cause for excitement. In the approach to the release of any of the then new prequel installments, the Twentieth Century Fox fanfare, followed by the Lucas Film logo, teased one's impulsive excitement at a glimpse into the next installment's narrative. Then sat in the movie theatre on the anticipated day of release, the sight and sound of the Twentieth Century Fox fanfare signalled the end of fevered anticipation. Whatever happened to those times? For some of us, is it a product of youth in which age now denies us the ability to lose ourselves within such adolescent pleasure? There's no answer to this question -- only the realisation that this sensation is missing and it has been since the summer of 2005. Star Wars is now a movie to tick off your to-watch list, no longer a spark in the dreary reality of the everyday. The magic has disappeared… Star Wars is spiritually dead.

Keep reading... Show less

This has been a remarkable year for shoegaze. If it were only for the re-raising of two central pillars of the initial scene it would still have been enough, but that wasn't even the half of it.

It hardly needs to be said that the last 12 months haven't been everyone's favorite, but it does deserve to be noted that 2017 has been a remarkable year for shoegaze. If it were only for the re-raising of two central pillars of the initial scene it would still have been enough, but that wasn't even the half of it. Other longtime dreamers either reappeared or kept up their recent hot streaks, and a number of relative newcomers established their place in what has become one of the more robust rock subgenre subcultures out there.

Keep reading... Show less

​'The Ferryman': Ephemeral Ideas, Eternal Tragedies

The current cast of The Ferryman in London's West End. Photo by Johan Persson. (Courtesy of The Corner Shop)

Staggeringly multi-layered, dangerously fast-paced and rich in characterizations, dialogue and context, Jez Butterworth's new hit about a family during the time of Ireland's the Troubles leaves the audience breathless, sweaty and tearful, in a nightmarish, dry-heaving haze.

"Vanishing. It's a powerful word, that"

Northern Ireland, Rural Derry, 1981, nighttime. The local ringleader of the Irish Republican Army gun-toting comrades ambushes a priest and tells him that the body of one Seamus Carney has been recovered. It is said that the man had spent a full ten years rotting in a bog. The IRA gunslinger, Muldoon, orders the priest to arrange for the Carney family not to utter a word of what had happened to the wretched man.

Keep reading... Show less

Aaron Sorkin's real-life twister about Molly Bloom, an Olympic skier turned high-stakes poker wrangler, is scorchingly fun but never takes its heroine as seriously as the men.

Chances are, we will never see a heartwarming Aaron Sorkin movie about somebody with a learning disability or severe handicap they had to overcome. This is for the best. The most caffeinated major American screenwriter, Sorkin only seems to find his voice when inhabiting a frantically energetic persona whose thoughts outrun their ability to verbalize and emote them. The start of his latest movie, Molly's Game, is so resolutely Sorkin-esque that it's almost a self-parody. Only this time, like most of his better work, it's based on a true story.

Keep reading... Show less

There's something characteristically English about the Royal Society, whereby strangers gather under the aegis of some shared interest to read, study, and form friendships and in which they are implicitly agreed to exist insulated and apart from political differences.

There is an amusing detail in The Curious World of Samuel Pepys and John Evelyn that is emblematic of the kind of intellectual passions that animated the educated elite of late 17th-century England. We learn that Henry Oldenburg, the first secretary of the Royal Society, had for many years carried on a bitter dispute with Robert Hooke, one of the great polymaths of the era whose name still appears to students of physics and biology. Was the root of their quarrel a personality clash, was it over money or property, over love, ego, values? Something simple and recognizable? The precise source of their conflict was none of the above exactly but is nevertheless revealing of a specific early modern English context: They were in dispute, Margaret Willes writes, "over the development of the balance-spring regulator watch mechanism."

Keep reading... Show less
Pop Ten
Mixed Media
PM Picks

© 1999-2017 All rights reserved.
Popmatters is wholly independently owned and operated.