The new album from Caroline Rose, Loner, is a hard one to describe in words. That said, it is an easy record to love, full of richly-observed New Wave that bears favorable comparisons to artists as diverse as Aimee Mann and Alex Lahey. The album drops on Friday on New West and it's the sort of record that is going to catch a lot of people off-guard.
If opener "More Of The Same" is a near-mournful slow-burner, the revved-up "Cry!" echoes countless acts from the Eighties. If there's something retro here, it's not simply an exercise in kitsch appeal as Caroline clearly spent a lot of time crafting this set of songs, with most cuts here on Loner being ones that are impeccably-produced and fully-realized. If "Money" is both funny and insanely catchy, it's "Getting To Me" that offers up something more sublime, Rose here cooing like Kate Bush on one of her mid-period risk-taking releases. The excellent and chiming "Soul No. 5" made me think of recent cuts from Courtney Barnett and Alex Lahey even as I tried to wrap my head around the sort of smart pop that Rose was laying down here. What carries most of Loner is a fine blend of sharp indie that delivers something intelligent and quirky while remaining wildly accessible. On a number like "To Die Today", Caroline Rose attempts a more austere approach, but it's stuff like "Animal" that really charmed me, and one almost wishes that the whole album was as direct as this number.
Sardonic yet heartfelt, simple yet complex and ornate in spots, Loner is an excellent release and one that should reward listeners looking for something clever and smart, as well as those in search of a batch of electro-pop numbers that you can sing along with in the car in the summer-time.
[Photo CJ Harvey]