Caroline Polachek - 'Pang' Album Review
We are living in a bit of a gold rush of pop music right now, and everybody is benefiting from it. We got the moody and folky pop music from Weyes Blood's brilliant latest album, we got the bounce and catchiness of Charli XCX's new album and we got some strong up and comers that are primed to blow up the charts like King Princess and Kilo Kish. There's no better time to jump into this wagon than right now and Caroline Polachek seems to have perfected this jump, joining the pop landscape with an album that reflects just as much about herself as it does the sound of modern pop music.
Formerly of the synth-pop tour de force Chairlift, Caroline Polachek doesn't need to earn her stripes in the pop field, as the group released a handful of eerie, forward-thinking records that cemented their spot on the front-lines of the synth wave. And then they broke up.
Luckily for us, Polachek is back a few years later and on her own she's refined and perfected the glistening pop production we are used to in 2019, while still maintaining some of the eerie-ness of Chairlift. Opening with the relatively low-key 'The Gate' the album kicks off with a 'pang' with the second track 'Pang' an explosive and bassy track, that does well to sum up the whole 14-track experience, existential lyrics, twinkling synth chords and a bassy underbelly. In terms of a pop-project, Pang covers all bases from the traditionally down-tempo catchy pop hook of 'Hit Me Where It Hurts' to the mostly-acoustic ballad of 'Look At Me Now' that shares the same fantastic lyrical space as some of my favourite pop tracks of this year from Weyes Blood and Lana Del Rey.
My un-wavering favourite off this album is probably the only time Polachek truly goes in and makes a banger on the track 'Ocean of Tears', an absolute belter of a track that combines pessimistic and destructive lyrics with a meaty bassline that results in a powerhouse that really stands out amongst the mostly soft-sound of the rest of the album. This 'soft' sound is curated by Polachek's use of the glittery-alien aesthetic of recent pop breakthroughs of artists like SOPHIE and Slayyter which suit her vocals wonderfully.
While it's hard to say that what Polachek does on Pang isn't a cut above from the rest, it's hard to listen and not hear her influences voices coming through, at points, stronger than her own, like 'Insomnia' for example, a heart-wrenching banger of epic proportions that sounds ripped straight out of a SOPHIE project. There isn't anything wrong with wearing your influences on your sleeve and by doing so, she finds a perfect slot within the current pop landscape, but much of this album isn't revolutionary, just done very well.
By picking and choosing sounds from both her Chairlift days and the current art-pop sound, what Caroline Polachek's Pang lacks in innovation, she makes up for in sheer scope and sound, making an intimate and thought provoking album that feels cosmic in size.
Listen to the album below: