A prolific songwriter and self-recording uploader of dozens of song collections in her teens, Greta Kline began using the alias Frankie Cosmos before releasing her first studio album, Zentropy, at age 19. The follow-up LP, Next Thing, finds the musician's pensive, personal lyrics addressing her transition into her twenties. Insightful observations like the concise "when you're young, you're too young/when you're old, you're too old" anticipate a complicated future, expressed in an unassuming manner. As with the songcrafter's twee-veneered music, simple-sounding lyrics often belie depth. Taking over sideman duties from Kline's frequent collaborator Aaron Maine (aka indie musician Porches) are Eskimeaux's Gabby Smith on keyboards, Aaron's brother David Maine on bass, and Luke Pyenson, formerly of Krill, on drums. Again, despite passive first impressions, this is no casual bedroom recording. Rather, careful detailing and adept performance emerge from attentive listens. Such textures are on display on the gentle "Fool," a sparse-seeming love song whose accompaniment is led by bass but includes delicate vocal harmonies, airy keyboard, harmonic guitar, and drums, each component added in turn and, seemingly, only as expressly required. A more standard band song, "On the Lips," features skipping guitar riffs on a talky verse that leads into a catchy aerial chorus that, in a twist on formula, clears out to expose only harmonized vocals and a rhythm section. "Too Dark" also showcases the singer's vulnerable, semi-conversational delivery and wispy upper range, in this case over an emotive, tempo-shifting tune with lyrics dwelling on confessional low self-esteem ("When I know I'm not the best girl in the room/I tell myself I'm the best you can do"). On an album that, from a musical perspective, seems incongruously loaded with self-doubt ("I'm 20, washed up already," "I don't know what I'm cut out for") the material is consistently hooky, endearing, elegant, and uncommonly candid.
AllMusic Review by Marcy Donelson