It took me too long to give Frankie Cosmos a fair listen. I’ll admit it – the notion that the progeny of 1980s movie A-listers Kevin Kline and Phoebe Cates could be more than a media curiosity was too much for me to fathom. Au contraire, Cardigan-wearing introverts – Cosmos’ debut Zentropy was such a sublime slice of twee pop that it rendered the recent Beat Happening anthology unnecessary.
On follow-up Next Thing Greta Kline (recording under the name Frankie Cosmos) mostly sticks to her knitting. Her songs remain ridiculously short, willfully juvenile, and impossibly catchy. It also takes her a bit longer to get rolling this time – you can only play the naïve card for so long, and a conceit like “If I Had a Dog” is harder to accept the second time around. The production values are also stepped up a notch, wiping away a layer of lo-fi mystery.
Soon enough, though, Kline begins to harness the potential of fuller band arrangements, introducing a bit more complexity to winners like “Tour Good” and “I’m 20.” The gorgeous chorus of “On the Lips” might even have radio hit potential, if the intervening verses didn’t lay bare Frankie Cosmos’ nerdier tendencies.
And since Next Thing delivers 15 tunes without cracking the 30 minute mark, it’s not asking much to wait for Kline to find her footing. While I still prefer the primitive charm of Zentropy, and I’m far from clear on where this road is leading, the journey has certainly been fun so far.