Frankie Cosmos Next Thing

[Bayonet; 2016]

Styles: MythBusters, Dial-A-Song, Bandcamp
Others: Ryan Adams, Eskimeaux, Frank O’Hara

DO NOT UNDER ANY CIRCUMSTANCES TRY THIS
were usually the first words you heard. It had to be a legal thing, right? In a television show where the hosts shot scotch for science then grinned at dynamite in the cement mixer, you probably had to cover your bases.

I didn’t watch MythBusters, really, not in 2016’s working definition of “watch” (deconstruct, consume, transfigure; this is your brain, this is your brain on Breaking Bad), but it was there, between the channels, in the lesson plans of the cool high school science teacher. Maybe the show was about science, maybe it was about problem-solving. Wasn’t the occasional Discovery tune-in just an excuse to ogle explosions of increasing magnitude?

There’s something to be said for explosions. There’s something to be said for questioning the narratives, blowing them up until they fit a little surer.

Pop music has mythologies. Juicy ones, too. Intention (“We do not come as minding to contest you/ Our true intent is”), youth (“Better to burn out than to fade away”) and art (“The human disposition of sensible or intelligible matter for an aesthetic end.”)

Frank Cosmos is a mythology, like Dylan or Twain. Next Thing is a gesture on behalf of that myth. It embraces. It busts.

It’s a logical gesture, maybe: Greta Kline’s thoughtful, crafted bedroom pop with a Bandcamp is rendered as thoughtful, crafted indie pop with a band. “If I Had a Dog” buzzes about dog love/envy before it realizes it’s a song about people love/envy. Like a lot of Frankie Cosmos songs, it wiggles into your ears, suggests a lot of difficult emotions, grins, and ends. Intentional? There’s an interview where Ezra Furman asks about intention; what is Frankie Cosmos, minimalist, amateurist? Greta Kline: “I think I’m just doing whatever I want all the time, and I don’t want to be boxed in.” BUSTED.

There’s those lines though, on “What If”: ““When you’re young, you’re too young/ When you’re old, you’re too old.” It sounds finite, the kind of line you could fixate on, point to as proof of art and intent. You could lit-crit the shit out of it: Bandcamp’s the medium of the moment; look at those kids in the crowd! “Have you heard? She is so young!” But finding proof in pop is a little like knowing that black coffee sobers you up. Saying that Frankie Cosmos makes things about/for being young is knowing that you could clean a cement mixer with fireworks. Youth, like myth, is tricky. But having a Next Thing admits to the process. Singing “What If” imagines the possibilities that optimism affords; writing “What If” imagines a new world, not because this one is bad, but because that’s her/our right as makers. Youth isn’t a moment. Youth is movement. BUSTED.

Next Thing moves. There’s the flutter of liking your friends (“Tour Good”), of friends liking friends (“Embody”), the merits of sleeping (“Sleep Song”) or being cranky (“Sinister”). It’s an art of Regularity: concerned with the little, frequent occasions that build a day, the body reacting via composition. “Outside With the Cuties” confronts love and songs, “I haven’t finished this song yet/ Will you help me fix it?” because they’re the same thing, right? The throwaways are vital, the hiccups, the unfinished sentences, the moments of transcendence (“O Dreaded C Town,” all rain drops and ghosts and ambivalence.) Everything is important or nothing is. That’s the optimism of Frankie Cosmos, maybe of art. Art is what we say about regular things, and it’s what the things we say say about us. It’s sort of about aesthetic. It’s mostly about us. BUSTED.

There’s something to be said for explosions, for not buying into the big box myths, for deviating and maybe getting wasted on the Discovery Channel’s dime. Because MythBusters and Frankie Cosmos aren’t manufactured booms. It’s anybody making anything, staring at the problem and moving beyond it. It’s Do it Yourself and it’s everybody being makers. We are all brilliant.

We celebrate. We embrace and explode, we bust. And we all get to
TRY THIS AT HOME

Links: Frankie Cosmos - Bayonet

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