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Album Review: Caroline Polachek – Desire, I Want To Turn Into You

2 min read

American singer, songwriter, and producer Caroline Polachek is pushing the boundaries of contemporary pop in her fourth album release Desire, I Want To Turn Into You. Polachek is no stranger to the music industry. She acted as vocalist and co-founder of pop duo Chairlift from the early 2000s until their disbanding in 2017 and has collaborated with notable musicians including Beyoncé, Dev Hynes and Charli XCX. She initially released solo projects under the pseudonyms Ramona Lisa and CEP, with her 2019 album Pang being the first release under her own name.

Desire, I Want To Turn Into You evokes a strong sense of imaginativeness that has been demonstrated throughout Polachek’s musical career. Aptly released on Valentine’s Day, she paints a world of her own across the 12-track record in which she touches upon the consuming nature of desire –the exhilaration of falling and the loneliness of yearning.

She pushes straight to the point with the opening track Welcome To My Island. Polachek is a lone siren, calling listeners to her island with a nearly operatic cry that immediately asserts her dynamic vocal range. Accompanied by dreamlike synth arrangements, spoken word and a bright guitar solo, Welcome To My Island is a vibrant nod to the album’s title as Polachek repeatedly exclaims: “Desire, I wanna turn into you.” The second track, Pretty In Possible, is a thoughtful open letter guided by free-flowing vocals and a simple melody. Closing out with a wistful string arrangement which draws from Massive Attack’s Unfinished Symphony, it creates some contrast against the upbeat tempo of the album’s third track and leading single Bunny Is A Rider. Contrast is evident across the record, as there are a few instances of bubbly beats being broken up by slow laments – consistent with the highs and lows of desire.

Fly To Me stands out as the only feature on the album, and it offers an interesting stylistic change. Grimes and Dido join Polachek on the energetic track. Jumpy drum and bass-inspired beats, a soft acoustic melody and delicate vocals come together as a spirited collaboration. The album finishes with Billions, which pulls upon ambient melodies and distortion to create a backdrop for Polachek’s emotional surrender. Although the album opens from an isolated perspective, it comes to a moving end with The Trinity Choir repeating: “I never felt so close to you.”

Desire, I Want To Turn Into You is an eclectic, deeply inspired glimpse into Polachek’s philosophy of love. While bouncy pop ballads exist at the heart of the album, she does not shy away from experimentation. Stream-of-consciousness lyricism, folk instruments and children’s choirs are just a few contributors to her elaborate soundscape. This is a diverse world that is worth falling into.