If any person would be described as having a “wallflower” mentality, it would be Greta Kline. She’s been releasing music with her project Frankie Cosmos for just under five years, but her solo material spans back to early 2009. Some of Kline’s best material was released during her time with the band and she has become one of indie music’s most excellent additions in recent memory. In 2014, Frankie Cosmos released their debut Zentropy, when Greta Kline was only 19. The album was hailed for being a mature, yet lively look into a myriad of different issues like relationships, school, and residing in a huge city at such a young age. Five years later, Kline is still dealing with the bewilderment that these issues present, but with a newly-found sense of malleability.
Compositionally, Haunted Items adds more to Kline’s heartfelt songwriting. The use of piano accentuates her tender, yet idiosyncratic lyrics and thus brings out more emotions that would perhaps appear. Throughout the album, Kline expresses herself and the situations she experiences with much more conviction. Growth has always been a major part of both Frankie Cosmos and Greta’s own solo material. On 2016’s excellent Next Thing, Kline felt very mature and eager, yet still nihilistic and perplexed. The follow-up album, Vessel, covered a wide array of topics, many of which dealt with the pain and disorienting nature of being young and slowly becoming of age in a society that is always changing. Kline’s uncanny ability to expand small stories into heart-to-heart conversations would be the driving factor behind making it another great release.
In comparison, the lyrics within Haunted Items feel like free-flowing thoughts that float around in a person’s subconscious; Thoughts that will keep said person up many a night as they attempt to deliberate the meaning of them. To put it plainly, these are “haunted” songs. Full of thoughts and ideas that, upon further inspection, consist of many insecurities and bothersome moments. It’s in these moments where the listener becomes more than just a passive standby, but instead, they become engrossed within the emotional state of being that Kline expresses on the project. On the Bandcamp page for Haunted Items #1, the meaning behind the title is explained:
Items themselves are harmless unless they are infused with some kind of energy. These items are haunted by fear, consumerism, commitment, love, loss, the list goes on…Frankie Cosmos on the album’s title and themes
One aspect that is permeated throughout all of Frankie Cosmos’ music is their trademark sense of intimacy and reliability. Introspection is permeated throughout all of Greta Kline’s music, but Haunted Items is different in this regard. While there are definite times of self-reflection and even a bit of that aforementioned nihilism, there are numerous levels of outward reflection and extrospection that present Kline in a new found light. Tracks like “Dancing” and “Tunnel” contain some of the band’s most quotable music to date, on top of some Greta Kline’s most intimate lyrics. (“I cry more times a day then you did in five years” hit so close to home).
On “Rings on a Tree”, she sings about an individual who, seemingly, is starting to regret engaging in a relationship with her. Romanticism still plays a big role in the album and while it can be inferred that Kline is still lovesick in some respects, there are lines that prove that independence and moving forward are ultimately more rewarding; A lesson that came at a cost.
Kline originally created these songs for the piano and funny enough, she was unsure as to how to record them. Despite this, however, this EP is another sublime entry into the ever-growing discography of Frankie Cosmos. The length always plays a huge factor, as some songs don’t even clock in at a minute long. This brevity makes the project even more of a feat, especially considering how emotionally succinct and full of depth it is. Not once does the project overstay its welcome and the willingness to stick this format, all the while remaining emotionally acute is truly something to behold.