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Re-Discover: Caroline Polachek

Caroline Polachek is an alt-pop artist from New York who creates unique music with a one-of-a-kind voice.
Caroline Polachek, ‘Desire…’ (Photographed by Aidan Zamiri)

Who is Caroline Polachek?

New York native Caroline Polachek is an experimental pop artist who has blossomed into her own lane. Her start began in 2010 with a band she was a part of in college called Chairlift which disbanded in 2017. Polachek is known for her 2019 viral hit “So Hot You’re Hurting My Feelings” off of her solo debut album. After success with her first solo full-length project Pang, she released her second in 2023. Desire, I Want To Turn Into You is an experimental pop record where she has truly established her sound. Each unique track somehow fits as just the right puzzle piece in this abstract album.

Desire, I Want To Turn Into You has very unique sounds and productions against Caroline Polachek’s distinct tone. Polachek co-produced the album with popular British producer Danny L. Harle. Harle has worked on Dua Lipa’s latest album, Radical Optimism, and has been a frequent collaborator with Polachek since her solo debut. Daniel Nigro, Olivia Rodrigo’s main producer since Sour, worked on the album opener, “Welcome To My Island.”

“Welcome To My Island”

Caroline Polachek: Pang Album Review | Pitchfork
Courtesy of Perpetual Novice/ Heavy Duty/ Kobalt Music Publishing

“Welcome To My Island” is one of the best lead tracks I have heard in the last few months. It is a clever opening, welcoming everyone to the album, with the title of the album making an appearance. The synth-pop track against her impressive high notes intertwined into the production is a standout. On every listen, you notice tiny intricate details within the song, further making it an impressive opener. A few months after its release, Charli XCX and George Daniel of The 1975 teamed up with Caroline Polachek for a remix. Charli elevates the song with incredible rap verses and George creates an electronic funky beat. I think this was the perfect team effort and guaranteed Polachek a hitmaker.

Caroline Polachek improvised the guitar solo in the song after Nigro handed her a guitar and basically told her to figure it out. The intro notes have a two-octave drop and were also made on the spot in the studio. Personally, I find cool accidents like this to be what really make a song stand out. Sometimes, the accidents can make perfection. 

Courtesy of Perpetual Novice/ Heavy Duty/ Kobalt Music Publishing

“Starburned and Unkissed” Review

Caroline Polachek has made her return with a brand new single, “Starburned and Unkissed.” The cosmic track came out on May 2 and is very catchy. This song has A.G. Cook as the producer, leading to very interesting production. The soft-rock-inspired sounds from the electric guitar play alongside soft synths. Polachek includes a wide variety of sounds, making the track feel as if rock met intergalactic space. Her voice is very soft in the beginning and as the track progresses, it switches between that soft sound to more gritty vocals. 

The song is also Polachek’s debut in film soundtracks. Her song is featured in the A24 film I Saw the TV Glow. According to Vulture, “‘Starburned and Unkissed’ is a departure for Polachek, marking both her first song for a feature film and the first time she’s done, as she puts it, a ‘straight-up grunge track.’ The genre shift is tonally apt for a film that pays painstaking homage to everything from Twin Peaks to Buffy the Vampire Slayer to Are You Afraid of the Dark to the Smashing Pumpkins.”

Caroline Polachek knows how to keep songs from becoming dull, and her creativity is appreciated. She never sticks to one sound and experiments until she finds the perfect balance of chaos with an earworm. The song is a must listen and you should check out her discography below. Every song sounds different from one another, but the one thing that remains is her impressive vocals. 

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