Desire, I Want to Turn into You! Caroline Polachek’s Sophomore Record


Ramona McNish, Contributor

Caroline Polacheck’s second album under her real name skirts irony and indifference entirely. You wouldn’t think it, but with a Valentine’s day release date, a title with the amount of punctuation usually reserved for early 2000s pop punk bands, and a sonic landscape primed to give the listener a toothache, the intellectual indie-pop artist seems prepared to give us a campy removed performance. 

Instead, she delivers the most sincere record of her career yet. The opening track begins with a 40-second vocal run ending with a two-octave drop. It’s angsty, impressive, and at points more reminiscent of a scream than anything musical. She doesn’t give the audience time to breathe before dropping directly into the bratty white girl rap flow that will define the album. She sings of sexuality, her dead father, and spam emails, all in the same reverent, ravenous tone. It’s overly earnest, and slightly uncomfortable. Funny, in the same way that anything anyone says at a sleepover is funny, but we aren’t laughing at her. Caroline is in complete control. 

On tracks such as Bunny is a Rider, and Smoke she plays into the insane-girl-in-love persona. “You are melting everything about me,” she croons to an imaginary lover, not trying to hide the desperation in her voice. 

Implicit in the title, Desire, I want to turn into you! Is the idea that in love, obsession, and yearning, we lose a sense of self. The world is turned tropical and technicolor seemingly overnight, and the vantage point from which we view this wonder is completely changed. Polachek explores this idea further on the cover of the record. She appears on all fours wearing a silk dress in a grimy subway car, 2000s style headphones almost falling off her ears as she lunges forward, compulsion and desire apparent in her luminous eyes. Sand spills in the foreground, hinting at some paradise where her lover is waiting just out of frame. 

The record explores the rawer, more embarrassing sides of a relationship, but in no way takes away from the glamor and yearning it inspires. “Bratty, messy, slutty,” Polachek said to Vulture when asked to describe the album, “You know, like being in love.”