Updated: Feb 21
In this very rare case, a year and a half long album rollout was well worth the wait. Loved by a peculiar mix of Fantano-heads and gay people on Twitter, indie darling Caroline Polachek has finally released her sophomore solo album, Desire, I Want To Turn Into You to universal acclaim. After lead single “Bunny Is A Rider” was named Pitchfork’s Best Song of 2021 and a slot opening for Dua Lipa, the former Chairlift member had a lot of hype to live up to, and boy did she knock it out of the damn park.
While “Bunny Is A Rider” did not click with me initially and honestly still remains my least favorite track on the album, what really got me excited for this release was the second single and this record’s closing track, “Billions.” “Billions” is a pop masterclass, and in my opinion, Polachek’s best work to date. The song’s experimentation with untraditional song structure (7 verses, 2 choruses, and a hell of an outro), some of the most unique production choices I’ve ever heard, and the gumption to use a children’s choir in a song about sexuality and questioning your morality has made it one of my favorite songs of all time.
With production from PC music pioneer Danny L. Harle, Desire is consistently mesmerizing in its innovative pop soundscapes. Opener “Welcome To My Island” quite literally welcomes listeners to the world that is built by this album. Snappy arpeggiators, vocoders, and Caroline’s gorgeous upper register singing the album title brings you into what becomes a 45 minute sonic whirlwind.
As someone with the attention span of an 8 year old, there was not a single moment on this album where my interest was lost. Whether it’s the bagpipe solo on “Blood And Butter” or the flamenco inspired “Sunset,” each track offers a different perspective on Polachek’s psyche in the 2+ years (Desire was not finished until 6 days before release according to Caroline) of this album’s development while still keeping a cohesive sound overall.
It would feel blasphemous to not mention the touching centerpiece of this record “I Believe,” a tribute to the late and great SOPHIE. In the lengthy liner notes on Apple Music, Caroline recalls the bond she had with SOPHIE, especially their shared love of 80s pop music. Polachek and Harle brought on legendary pop producer Ariel Rechtshaid, who has worked with the likes of Madonna, Charli XCX, and HAIM. That style undeniably comes through on this track with its campy synths, front-and-center bassline, and a runway ready drum machine beat.
“I Believe” is for better or worse, followed by “Fly To You”, which immediately smacks you right in the face with a guest verse from everyone’s favorite billionaire baby mama, Grimes. Don’t get me wrong, this song is great. The breakbeat style production is perfect for this album and is a truly fun listen, but I just cannot stand Grimes to save my life. If you share that sentiment, she luckily does not come back after the 50 second mark.
Desire, I Want To Turn Into You has set the bar immeasurably high for this year’s upcoming pop releases, and will surely go down as one of 2023’s quintessential releases.
Click the link below to listen to Desire, I Want To Turn Into You out now on all streaming platforms.