Search The Line of Best Fit
Search The Line of Best Fit

Caroline Polachek crafts a surreal, dizzying portrait of love on Desire, I Want to Turn Into You

"Desire, I Want to Turn Into You"

Release date: 14 February 2023
Caroline Polachek Desire I Want To Turn Into You Artwork
14 February 2023, 00:01 Written by Sam Franzini

Whereas her debut Pang dealt with anxiety and paranoia in often claustrophobic soundscapes, Caroline Polachek’s sophomore album, Desire, I Want To Turn Into You, feels like floating on air.

The tight 12-track collection is doe-eyed, confident, and sonically varied – not only is it wholly different from its predecessor, it’s a portrait of someone in love. From its opening screams welcoming the listener to her world, Desire, I Want to Turn Into You is an island where romance is meshed with clearly focus artistic vision.

Much more here than on Pang, Polachek writes almost as if to determine what sounds good sonically, instead of having songs with a clear thesis. The effect is lurid and fable-like, as if she’s telling you myths instead of truths, to the point where it can often be difficult to discern what a song is really about. Not necessarily a criticism – but on “Bunny Is a Rider,” she sings that it’s “dirty like it’s Earth Day / Tryna wet that palette,” and on the twinkling closer “Billions,” she describes herself as “Psycho / Priceless / Good in a crisis.” Okay, sure! Her abstractness is an asset: these songs read more like poetry, the sonnets she describes in “Billions.” She’s been vocal about this stream-of-consciousness style, particularly on “Pretty In Possible,” which advances almost as if she’s making it up on the spot.

Amongst these dreamy, loose works are ones rooted in the present – usually love-drenched song of longing and passion. “Fly to You,” which manages to balance features from both Grimes and Dido, shows someone vulnerable enough to go to their partner instead of retreating within themselves; “Crude Drawing of an Angel” is a snapshot of messy mid-morning beauty; and “I Believe” uses its stadium-bright synths to picture yearning at its highest form: “Violent love / Feel my embrace.” The best of which – and perhaps the album’s finest moment – is “Blood and Butter,” which could easily slot into a video game soundtrack centred in a cave. Backed by her own vocals, guitars, and bagpipes(!), she’s in awe of the body aura and gravity of her partner: “Look at you all mythicalogica land Wikipediated,” she sings, inventing words and emotions only she could create. “I don’t need no entertaining / When the world is a bed,” she admits, later revealing that she wants to get closer to her partner than their new tattoo. It’s otherworldly, blending the bizarre and romantic in pure Polachek fashion.

Desire operates at a higher caliber than Pang – it’s almost as if she’s gotten the ‘accessible’ music out of her system (if you could even call it that) and has made ample room to experiment with her own creativity. It makes sense that these songs exist in the liminal – she even admits that “real life is a rumor” in the slow-burn “Hopedrunk Everlasting.” In an ode to her late father on “Welcome to My Island,” too, she reckons with her distinctive creative process: “He says watch your ego, watch your head, girl / … Go forget the rules, forget your friends / Just you and your reflection.”

Polachek does things on her second effort that most artists never dream of achieving. A clear mastermind at work, her brilliance is in every nook and cranny of each song. The attention to detail – whether it be the layering on “Sunset” or “Blood and Butter,” or vocal melodies that branch between songs and albums – make her one of the most innovative artists today. The desire she sought to turn into on the title track is fully realised in these mesmerising and wholly unique soundscapes.

Share article

Get the Best Fit take on the week in music direct to your inbox every Friday

Read next