In a Stereogum interview published in the run-up to the March 2018 release of Vessel, her latest album under the moniker Frankie Cosmos, Greta Kline muses obliquely on the group’s future and directly on her own relationship to music, saying “When I die, I want to have as many songs as I could have written exist and be out in the world.”
Per the witness of the internet as public record, her urge towards prolificacy is, if novel in its articulated epiphany, nothing new. Dating back to April 2009, Kline – now 24 – has released hundreds of MP3s via Bandcamp. At a steady and rapid clip, she has leveraged digital’s infinitization of upper production limits – chiefly with respect to cash and reach – to compile a granular, available, tonal journal that will soon document an entire decade (i.e., two-fifths) of her life.
These songs are grouped under a slue of different pseudonyms, including ingrid superstar, Little Bear, the ingrates, and zebu fur. franklin cosmos first appeared in February 2012, as the credited source of much ado about fucking, and names of all kinds – authors, LPs, single files – were only standardized in their capitalization in March 2014, with the release of a first studio album by Double Double Whammy. Titles like the above speak to chatspeak poeticism: “waOter is sLo fuDnny”; “skinned elbow = now you’re cool”; “lord tanamo springtime bullSHIT! ft princess poopekanya”; et al and so on.
The music itself was long nested under the ‘twee’ epithet, on occasion of its tools – seldom keys, always nylon guitar, often the muffle patina of cassette plastic – its themes – a lot of enamoured romance and a sense of smallness in a big city qua world – and, one could bet, if a little tentatively, a gendered regard of those perspectives as put to word and melody by a young woman.
Even as Kline has grown up some and wised to the compositional upsides of working in concert with the Frankie Cosmos amoeba, the line of her writing threads taut through the panoply of her output and seams its sprawl into something cohesive. She has proved dexterous at winding smart lyrics through bare poignancy and coolhand humour.
She toggles as well between named characters swathed in generalities of sentiment and vague shells personae of personae immersed in circumstantial specificities, rendering them habitable to listeners. The effect, taken with a deft handling of pacing – among the band’s three label LPs, one finds only two songs, the opener and closer of Vessel, that run longer than 3 minutes – is narration that is absorptive, flecked with insight, and magnetic to listeners’ sympathies.