Album Review: Caroline Rose – ‘Superstar’

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After her critically acclaimed album ‘Loner’, Caroline Rose has recently released her new album Superstar. The songs centre around love, loss and what it means to be human. This album comments on fame and almost satirises the whole process of wanting to be popular and famous. Through narrating this process, she is laughing at herself and society as a whole. The album features a her wrapped in a plastic sheen, pointing out the falseness of fame and the difference between how success appears and the reality. Her witty ability to make fun of herself and accept she is different has carried over from her previous albums but she here there is a clear transition into the pop genre from country.

This album comments on fame and almost satirises the whole process of wanting to be popular and famous.

The way she blends the synthetic beats with meaningful lyrics is impressive. In the first half of the album her upbeat rhythms remind me of Janelle Monae, particularly her song ‘Make Me Feel’. Later on in the album her darker lyrics have a likeness to Mitski’s music. The tone and emotion varies across the different songs but she carefully weaves all of them into a story to devour, hoping her audience engage with them each time they revisit the album. Her last album felt like a brilliant experimentation, whereas Superstar feels like a cohesive and completed masterpiece.

I would strongly recommend listening to this album in order. Many critics consider Rose’s album to be more similar to a short film and I would agree. Her carefully crafted lyrics paint scenes which are coloured by the funky beats and the bright red colour of the album cover. It is a story of what it means to rise and fall from fame: what it is like to have hope and then lose a sense of self and direction.

There is a striking level of honesty in her lyrics; she always meshes the emotional lyrics with the intensity of the sounds rather than hiding behind the music.

She cleverly sets up an unknown gender neutral protagonist which allows her to sculpts the character from aspects of herself but also means that anyone listening can imagine themselves on this journey. In a Billboard interview she said ‘I took all the most embarrassing parts of myself and I injected them with steroids and turned them all into this person’; this made so much sense to me. There is a striking level of honesty in her lyrics; she always meshes the emotional lyrics with the intensity of the sounds rather than hiding behind the music. The album starts with the bold and hopeful ‘Nothing’s Impossible’ however her optimism slowly declines as we go on a journey to see what reaching for fame looks like. Her sassy, defiant pop tune ‘Feel the Way I Want’ reminds me a little of Sigrid’s ‘Don’t Kill My Vibe’ with its strong, catchy chorus.The second half of the album becomes more sombre and reflective, with ‘Someone New’ showing a certain vulnerability but still retaining a strong sense of grit.  The album ends with the song ‘I Took A Ride’ which is almost perfectly designed to end a movies, with the protagonist riding into the sunset into an uncertain future.

Caroline is currently on tour in the U.S. playing a total of 25 shows. Image: Caroline Rose performing at Hopscotch Festival by Colakovicsrdjan via Wikimedia Commons

After listening to Superstar I rediscovered how important the structure and layering of an album is; Rose is able to connect all her songs smoothly and effortlessly all while telling us a story.

Image: Caroline Rose performing at the Grand Point North Music Festival by Brian Jenkins via Flickr

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