- 06 Nov 19
Caroline Polachek's solo debut is the gut-punching pop record we need right now.
The most forward-thinking and progressive music of 2019 has been pitched to us by women of pop. That’s right, not punks, rappers, or DJs, but pop stars. Charli XCX, Kim Petras, Solange and Billie Eilish have all released astounding records that put a new face on subversive. Now, adding to the list is Caroline Polachek with Pang, a masterwork of sonic miracles and songwriting brilliance.
Polachek has released music with her now-defunct band Chairlift for over a decade, but Pang is her first release under her own name. This conscious change gives her a much-needed chance to redefine her art. Now, we see her most true self laid bare song after song, as themes of burning love and complex relationships permeate the album. Take, for example, the second and third singles from the record, ‘Ocean Of Tears’ and ‘Parachute’, with their heartbreaking lyrics and melancholic production. It’s not all doom and gloom though. Polachek also packs a punch on the ’80s-inspired ‘So Hot You’re Hurting My Feelings’, a contender for jam of the year with its instantly classic chorus.
Yet, the album all comes down to Polachek’s brilliant vocals. A trained baroque singer, she approaches every song with meticulous delivery that oftentimes crescendos with sweeping operatic lines. The production, though firmly rooted in pop, is genre-fusing and incorporates an eclectic array of instrumental palettes. Listen to ‘New Normal’, which features the faded sounds of a country-guitar twang over a bouncy bass beat. On paper, they’re an unnatural combination, but Polachek seamlessly bridges the gaps between what appear to be disparate worlds.
Overall, Pang is a stunning solo debut. Caroline Polachek is already sitting in 2019’s winners’ circle.