Long Island, N.Y. native Caroline Rose started writing songs at age 14. By 24, two years after graduating from college with an architecture degree, she had dropped two Americana-leaning albums — one (2012’s American Religious) on her own via Kickstarter backing, and one (2014’s I Will Not Be Afraid) for little-known Little Hi! Records.
Four years on, Rose is finally back with a new label, New West Records, and a new album, Loner, which features a much more Pop-centric set of songs than her previous output.
“I love Angel Olsen and Big Thief, and I feel like I used to make music that was more in that vein of intimate, more personal songs,” Rose told Stereogum earlier this year. “But there’s another part of my personality that’s a storyteller and I love being flamboyant and boisterous sometimes. So I wanted to take all the different facets of my personality, like the humor and sarcasm.”
Album opener “More of the Same” is exhibit A in Rose’s stylistic evolution — anchored by rudimentary, interweaving keyboard lines and loping rhythms, she sings about the need to break free from following typical societal modes. “Money,” a sideways critique of capitalism, is an even more brazen break, reveling in Rockabilly guitars, odd electronics and cheeky vocals from the Kathleen Hanna school of mischievousness.
Most curious of all is “To Die Today,” an atmospheric mood piece that brings to mind Massive Attack minus the dread. The very next track, “Soul No. 5,” is a jubilant Surf-inspired ditty about the pleasures and pains of receiving catcalls — yet another tonal U-turn in an album full of them.