Front–woman Greta Kline of Frankie Cosmos has been releasing her DIY indie music on the internet since she was 16. If you have the time to scroll through her bandcamp page, you’ll find dozens of EP–like releases under the names Ingrid Superstar, Ingrid, Little Bear, the Integrates, Zebu Fur, and, finally, with a back–up band as Frankie Cosmos. Clicking on these albums with their bad photoshop and doodle cover art, you’ll find little gems of indie rock. After years of experimenting with unvarnished and poetic songs, Kline has mastered indie rock on her latest project Haunted Items.
Sticking to her roots, Haunted Items was released as a digital–only collection and features just Kline on vocals and piano. From March through April, Kline uploaded her album in four installments of two or three singles a week. Despite being backed by the record label Sub Pop Records, Kline sticks to producing and delivering songs on her own terms, not following any typical release schedule. As for the music, it too maintains a low–key, DIY feel.
On her bandcamp page, Kline explains her inspiration for the album: “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.” Each single serves as a vignette into elements of quotidian life. Singing about jeans, string, and a tunnel, Kline brings candid and stirring emotions.
On Haunted Items #4, the last release for the project, Kline pairs simple piano chords with little ditties and rhymes. “Rings on a Tree” is sweet and bright, contrasting the short and powerful darkness of “Allowed.” On “Today’s Special,” Kline completely fills the 58–second track with nostalgia, singing the wholesome line, “Today’s Special is your freckles.” The songs portray Kline’s precise lyricism. She has an uncanny ability to grab the listener with her short lines. The songs together are neither completely carefree nor dark, but wrapped in much more complicated sentiments.
In one of the collection's most notable songs, “Dancing” from Haunted Items #1, Kline continues to demonstrate her poetic lyrical ability. “You bought more pairs of jeans, than you ever shed tears,” is delivered so frankly, yet powerfully right at the end of the song. Her best lyrics always seem to be packed into the end, haunting the listener once the song is over. Another standout, “Eternal,” sounds like a stream of consciousness from Kline. She sings “Nothing is nothing, everything is everything” in the intro of the song in a hypnotic manner. The rest of the song is filled with cryptic lines, "all the windows are so scary,” and “I walk through an ocean just to see if light was closing.” It’s hard to make sense of all that the song means, but that doesn’t detract from Kline’s ability to portray a multitude of emotions.
Throughout the collection Kline delivers her lyrics in a quiet, yet firm voice while she lets the lyrics speak volumes. Her vocals are a bit of a second thought, and the words themselves pack more of a punch than their delivery. The collection is a skillful performance of lo–fi music portraying the ordinary and everyday in an acutely observed way.