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Tiny bombs

Frankie Cosmos inflicts sweet darkness

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Frankie Cosmos' lyrics serve as little paper cuts—tiny assaults that seem all the more damaging because they're nestled in what sound like sweet acoustic bedroom recordings. In "Sleep Song," she sings, "I'll be here all night feelin' totally fucked/ wondering what tomorrow will be like, and stayin' up./ I guess I just make myself the victim, like you said.../ it all makes sense now, thanks so much." Is "thanks so much" sarcasm or self-effacing defeat? It seems like both, and that ambivalence gives the album its complexity.

Frankie Cosmos is the singer-songwriter name for Greta Kline (daughter of actors Phoebe Cates and Kevin Kline), and her newest album, Quick Songs, which includes "Sleep Song," is as fleeting as the title implies. All tracks are under two minutes and three of them are under a minute. According to her Bandcamp page, the short tracks are a product of logistics because she and her friends challenged themselves to writing one song per day. But the short form has an interesting artistic effect, too. Kline is able to provide surprisingly complicated emotions in simple snapshots. In "Family with a Dog," for instance, she wants a family with a dog and a "boyfriend full of love," but halfway through she delves into an existential tangent, singing, "I see a lot more evil these days. I seem a lot more evil, too."

Frankie Cosmos
  • Frankie Cosmos

Like Liz Phair's Exile in Guyville, Frankie Cosmos' songs are about the dark and uncomfortable corners of love. But they're almost spookier in their brevity, like catching a shadowy figure out of the corner of your eye. Kline is part of a tradition (a newish one, mind you, that may have started with riot grrrls) that's somehow simultaneously feminist and also confessional—proving that even the coolest women end up subjecting themselves to degradations they shouldn't. It's honest and sometimes maddeningly short. It's a sleepy little time bomb.

Frankie Cosmos plays Stage 112 Tue., Sept. 30, at 10 PM with Porches, FUULS and Wrinkles. $5/ $7 for ages 18 to 20.

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