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

Caroline Polachek releases an experimental album that breaks boundaries....

Lorna Bristow
7th March 2023
Caroline Polachek's sophomore album, Desire, I Want To Turn Into You, was released February 14th 2023, a fitting day to release an album following topics of desire, love and introspective self-discovery. The album paints a journey of embracing emotions previously held back, portrayed through energetic and warm melodies.

While this is her second album under Caroline Polachek, and so it’d be an easy mistake to brand her as a new artist, she has years of experience behind her, formerly a part of indie pop duo Chairlif, releasing an electronica album under Ramona Lisa and venturing into instrumental sounds under 'CEP'. Alongside this, Polachek has written for artists like Beyonce, Travis Scott, Flume and Charli XCX. These years of building, curating a sound, and maturing are all evident in this album.  

Consisting of 10 tracks, Polachek paints themes of escapism, love and, of course, desire. A personal favourite is the opening track 'Welcome To My Island', Caroline perfectly uses her vocals, with a catchy 'hey hey hey hey' motif, accompanied by a stunning guitar solo and synths that make the track slot together. I strongly suggest checking out the music video too.  

The album paints a journey of embracing emotions previously held back, portrayed through energetic and warm melodies

The Harle-produced track, 'Bunny Is A Rider' stands out too. With whimsical delivery and an instantly recognizable whistle feat, alongside lyrics that don’t entirely make sense, a running theme throughout Caroline's work.

Next, tracks 'I Believe' and 'Crude Drawing Of An Angel' showcase Polachek's ethereal, magnificent and confident vocals. Her voice dominates these tracks, making the tracks seem both inviting and personal. 'I Believe' is about immortality, and was dedicated to the late visionary SOPHIE, with Caroline saying “it wanted to feel like thinking, like sailing, but also to feel physical, warm, full of heart” using her voice, which is definitely prevalent here. This amount of emotion carried by Caroline's vocal continues throughout the record.

Credit: YouTube

Overall, this is a monumental alternative pop album, and a career-defining moment for Caroline. Paying homage to underappreciated, yet pioneering artist SOPHIE, while overcoming the fate pop albums often fall into of fearing pushing boundaries, stuck in a loop of producing something catchy, but not long-lasting.  Many pop albums can feel predictable and one dimensional, something that means I typically tend to stray away from pop albums, but Caroline defies all the above. At no point throughout listening did I feel it was repetitive, or could I predict turns like the implementation of drum and bass and Didos feature on 'Fly To You'.

Caroline shows her dynamic ability in both her vocals and production, and a uniqueness not seen very often. There are influences of alternative sounds from the 70s and 80s, as well as modern elements of hyperpop. This may be why many critics declare Polachek Gen Z’s Kate Bush, but while it is a compliment, Caroline Polachek may be building a sound that doesn’t need comparisons, but to hold value as herself, not compared. It's safe to say, just two months into the year, this album has secured a spot, at least for me, for one of the top experimental pop albums of 2023. 

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