Caroline Polachek. Credit: Somag Magazine

Caroline Polachek longs for connection on ‘Desire, I Want To Turn Into You’

By Eve Zebedee

Caroline Polachek’s long awaited sequel to 2019’s Pang is a tightly hewn, thematically rich pop showcase 

Caroline Polachek crawls towards you through a backdrop of chaos amidst a slew of new pop releases. For one, it’s an album cover rooted in the panic and uncertainty of youth, but it’s heightened musically by Polachek’s siren calls and vivid vocals. The first track ‘Welcome to my Island’, mindful of the pandemic the album was written in, longs for connection in Polachek’s labyrinth, but chants the titular line ‘Desire, I want to turn into you’ in hopeful affirmation. Suddenly, confidence calls for the ‘Pretty in Possible’, conjuring the feeling of city living. It’s a soundscape representing an inner dialogue, with Polachek asking ‘How does it feel to be so… you know… rich?’, evoking feelings of aspiration. 

‘Bunny is a rider’ was initially released in July 2021, a song searching for a more concrete reality, with Polachek writing it as a tribute to “being offline and off grid’’; “that’s the sexiest thing ever,” she decides amidst a tightly-locked bass groove. The familiarity of its sound doubles down on the track’s confidence and swagger. ‘Sunset’ then pulls us back onto Polachek’s insular island; her swooping voice and flamenco backdrop depicts the glamourous frustration of falling in and out of love. 

‘I believe’ reminds me of the way artists such as Lorde play with changing emotions and narrative. Tasting of closure, and continuing the recurring themes of hope and the bliss of contentedness, ‘feel my embrace’ tries to capture a legacy. Polachek’s collaboration with Dido and Grimes on ‘Fly To You’ continues to explore grief, and alludes to a recurring motif of an angel, layering time and place, and three unique voices, to construct a sense of cohesion and acceptance. 

‘Blood and Butter’ is a heavenly love song that carries Polachek’s theme of ancient gods; ‘look at you, all mythological’, she intones. The use of Bagpipes fosters Polachek’s cultivated maximalism, and announces love like a herald. Alongside the lyric ‘needing nothing’, it also evokes a feeling of completeness when desire is met. 

‘Smoke’ is Sunday at a festival, the last week of summer. ‘Floating over a volcano’, places importance on volatility and uncertainty in life; the melody from ‘Pretty in Possible’ returns as she answers her own question, asking you to take it all in. ‘Billions’, finishing the album, is fractious, with evocative lyrics following themes: ‘headless angel’, being interrupted by a twinkling piano. In the image of mythology, the cornucopia is full, but the want is no longer in Polachek’s isolation or material possessions, but connection and love; the album drifts away to the choral ‘I never felt so close to you’. 

Caroline Polachek’s experience means that ‘Desire, I Want to Turn Into You’ is a wise and intimate album. Polachek cultivates a powerful narrative; similar to releases from Self Esteem or Jessie Ware, purposeful use of themes and motifs result in an album that is both refreshingly diverse, even otherworldly, and shamelessly true.


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