Frankie Cosmos - pure suburb

Jeanette Wall reflects on Greta Klein’s latest album.

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Greta Kline will look over her shoulder occasionally while on stage, catching glances from her partner Aaron Maine. “This song’s about the drummer,” she’ll smile through the microphone. Their love is cinematic yet true, a part of outer space they occupy. In their songs, they lovingly nod to one another with pseudonyms, Frankie Cosmos and Ronnie Mystery respectively. Greta’s songs brim with inside jokes and one-line anecdotes about her relationship with Aaron, her dog, her backdrop in Manhattan. She talks about characters in songs some know the words to, characters finding their way through the streets of New York City, characters in venues you see holding hands.

“Talk to me,” Greta sings on her latest album. “I’ll tell you a gooey, never ending story of Ronnie and Frankie.” pure suburb is the latest of her over forty releases under Frankie Cosmos. In these short bursts of songs, not unlike on previous releases, she croons through narratives about her affections and her life in New York. Frankie and Ronnie are no longer distant fictions as you hear her stories. She’ll invite listeners into one ventricle of her heart for a moment, and by the next track they will be floating around her limbic system. The only boundaries built in her songwriting are Aaron’s and her friends’ and her own alter egos, serving as her own personal catharsis.

Though, in being so candid with personal thoughts and feelings, she ultimately leaves herself more vulnerable than she may have intended. “Your name is so great I make the mistake of making it known, so others can moan, ‘Oh Ronnie, oh oh oh Ronnie.’” Greta is an open travel journal, a raw nerve. A chorus of strangers now sing her private moments. Though names are occasionally altered, she hands you a pop up book of her life, including soft lips, Fifth Avenue taxis, and shows at Death By Audio. She shares these feelings in an autobiographical moment of pause.

Here, the shared human experience, the particle string, falls in on itself. You are in danger of revealing too much. Why are you singing about this love, anyways? Why are you singing at all? Greta is left asking questions about the relative success of the music and the stories she shares with these listeners. “If you make it, will you tell Domino Records about me?” Is it better to try and fail, or should you even bother to try at all? Is it better to reveal too much or not enough? Is it worth playing the mix tape knowing that it will end?

In the end, Miss Frankie keeps her heart exposed, and she stays true to herself. Honesty is everything in all of these relationships, be it an artist to the people who they sing about, or an artist to the people who listen. We have our memories and our stories when we have nothing else. There is nothing left to do but share our lives with one another and hope we learn something when kissing, loving, and putting together jigsaw puzzles.

Download pure suburb via Frankie Cosmos’ Bandcamp page.

  • RDB

    Frankie is great! I hope she makes it to London someday

  • Kyle

    This was an excellent post.