It’s remarkable to me that Caroline Polachek is just now launching a solo career. Be it out front of Chairlift, alongside peers like Charli XCX, or behind the scenes for stars like Beyoncé, Polachek has long been a prolific force at the intersection of indie and pop. But although she’s released experimental offerings as Ramona Lisa and CEP, she hasn’t properly gone solo until now. Pang, her first album under her own name — and first since Chairlift’s amicable breakup in 2017 — is out today. It’s fantastic.
Both literally and figuratively, Polachek’s voice is extremely distinct. The high-arching melodies she scales on Pang will be familiar to Chairlift fans, even as the palette of sounds around her shifts subtly toward the pop side of her aesthetic. She mostly crafted the album alongside PC Music mainstay Danny L Harle, with some contributions from figures including A. G. Cook, Jim-E Stack, Robin Hannibal, Dan Carey, and Teddy Geiger. They’ve come up with a sound that’s both fizzy and moody; it’s still to the left of the modern mainstream, but Pang bangs at least as often as it swoons.
A new Guardian feature explains that Polachek originally intended to release a more organic collection called Calico, but the sessions with Harle — originally intended for pitching to Katy Perry — became the groundwork for a different kind of project. Also informing the music was the end of her two-year marriage and a series of adrenal rushes in her body, which is where the title came from: “I couldn’t tell if my excitement about all these musical breakthroughs was triggering my body, like I was manufacturing drugs internally.”
If you’ve heard early singles “Door,” “Ocean Of Tears,” “Parachute,” “So Hot You’re Hurting My Feelings,” and “Look At Me Now,” you know Polachek is on to something. Now that the rest of Pang is here, you can experience that something in full. Stream the album below.
Pang is out now on Columbia. Buy it here.