The melodic and jumpy ballads of Frankie Cosmos excited the nearly sold-out Black Cat on Sept. 27, following the release of their newest album, “Close It Quietly,” which has been receiving critical acclaim. In front of a crowd of eager fans dressed in cuffed jeans and checkered Vans, Frankie Cosmos laments the sadness of mid-20s Americans while still using the upbeat melodies and childishly poetic lyrics that have characterized their previous work to address a darker, more mature subject matter.
Even though Frankie Cosmos sounds more like a stage name, it is actually a band composed of lead singer Greta Kline and her backing bandmates, Luke Pyenson on drums and vocals, Alex Bailey on bass guitar and keyboards, and Lauren Martin on keyboards, synthesizers and harmonies. They broke out onto the music scene in 2016 and have cultivated their rising star within lo-fi indie rock.
The two opening acts that preceded the band forwarded their tradition of promoting and celebrating female-led bands and other female artists to attendees. Previous openers have included Ian Sweet and the band Florist, who have gone on to lead their own tours. By scoping out this talent to highlight female artists, the band helps pave the way for promising, newer artists.
The first opener, Locate S,1, led by singer Christina Schneider, performed songs off their folk-rock rager of an album, “Healing Contest.” In contrast, Lina Tullgren, a classically trained singer who now makes singer-songwriter music, followed Schneider with a much more laid-back set carried by her powerful voice and subdued backing guitars.
By the time Frankie Cosmos took the stage, the crowd’s anticipation was beginning to crest, but the exciting sounds of Frankie Cosmos’ music was like a shot of adrenaline. The group opened their set with “Being Alive,” a track off of their previous album, “Vessel.” The upbeat tempo is juxtaposed with the sadness-tinged hope that runs through the chorus: “Being alive / Matters quite a bit / Even when you / Feel like s–t / Being alive.” In the heat of the song, though, the crowd embraced the energetic yet dark track and fostered a newfound sense of energy and power.
The group then began to incorporate some of their newer songs, starting with “Moonsea,” the leading singe off of the 2019 album “Close It Quietly.” The tempo ebbed and flowed as the crowd danced to the melody and cautiously hopeful lyrics: “The world is crumbling and I don’t have much to say / We say goodbye, goodbye / Go slow like the train / I hope you know you’re not nothing / We’ve got everything to gain.”
There was even a cameo from Frankie Cosmos’ 2015 EP “Fit Me In,” which launched them into the public eye with the songs “Young” and “Korean Food,” the latter of which they performed. Like “Moonsea”, “Korean Food” maintains the sadness that has been a staple of their music, while remaining relatable and young as Kline reveals that “I feel not the most beautiful / When you look at me / Too handsome to be drawn / I can’t help it / I, I am a love song.”
However, nothing got the crowd going quite like the classics off of the band’s sophomore album “Next Thing.” Kline’s voice was joined by the crowd on the standout tracks “Fool” and “Outside with the Cuties” that have grown their fame and critical acclaim. These tracks took on a new energy in their performance, as Kline’s passionate performance created an aura of spectacle around these older tracks.
Although dealing with topics of isolation, both of those tracks are lighter and more romantic than their newer work, reflecting the youthful optimism that had previously colored all of the band’s subject matter. For example, in the song “Fool,” Kline playfully lets someone know that “You make me feel like a fool / Waiting for you / I thought we could eat bread / I thought we could talk.”
By playing such a wide swath of songs, fans of every Frankie Cosmos album got to relive the band’s favorite moments. The group may now be less unshakingly positive and optimistic compared to their earlier releases, but the new lyrics still vibrantly filled Black Cat when paired with a characteristically light and peppy production that keeps listeners coming back for more.