SINCE 2009, Greta Kline has released dozens of albums' worth of songs on Bandcamp under the moniker Frankie Cosmos. Her airy voice resurrects the '90s twee-punk of K Records bands like the Softies, but with lyrics that are marked by a profoundly conversational intimacy.
In 2014 she released her first official full-length, Zentropy, 10 tracks replete with late adolescent, armpit-soaking social anxiety. Here Kline describes herself as "the kind of girl buses splash with rain," and sings about feeling out of place with bruised but effervescent sensibility. She coos love songs to her dog Joe Joe, before she has to put him to sleep in the album's brutal dirge "Sad 2." Throughout Zentropy, Kline seems lost, trying to navigate the overwhelming uncertainty of everything.
Last month brought the release of her follow-up, Next Thing, which includes both recently written material and re-recorded songs she'd released to Bandcamp as lo-fi demos over the past few years. Kline's older songs are rejuvenated with buzzy, synth-heavy production and a backing band that's made up of some of her best friends.
"I'm happy with the production. I think it's the most crazily produced thing we've done," she says. "My favorite stuff on the record is all these freaky backup vocals—[Hunter] actually wrote and sang a lot of them, too. Him and Gabby wrote the backup harmonies for 'Outside with the Cuties.' It was, like, three in the morning and I just realized they'd been writing this insane part together. They just laid it down and that became the backup vocal. Stuff like that I think is really special."
Next Thing blurs past and present like watercolor landscapes out the window of Kline's tour van. She's 22 now, singing about feeling "washed up already" on a song called "I'm 20." But she thrives in this state of flux, revisiting old feelings and becoming renewed and empowered by this self-reflection. Her mature retrospective transforms Bandcamp tracks like "Embody" (previously released on Affirms Glinting) from an almost meek, self-reassuring mantra, where she vows she'll "Someday in bravery/Embody all the grace and lightness," into a glorious actualization of this promise.
"It's this coming together of me as a 19-year-old, writing 'Too Dark,' 'On the Lips,' and 'Embody,' which are about relationships, and touring, and life stuff," she says. "And then coming back as a 21-year-old after two years of touring, and two years of thinking about those relationships and situations, and having a little more hindsight to write about the same subjects."
Next Thing is a crossroad—a moment for Kline to ruminate on her past and see how far she's come before moving on to the next thing.