Pang is the first full length solo project from indie pop singer Caroline Polachek. This 14-track project takes you on an emotional journey through Polachek’s psyche and her thoughts. Perhaps the strongest part of this project is the range and flexibility that Polachek’s operatic-like voice exudes. Every track on this album has a very tangible sense of rawness, like Polachek’s very soul is on display for all to hear.
On tracks like “Caroline Shut Up” and “Parachute,” Polachek’s voice cracks and goes somewhat off key at times. But this is not a negative at all, at least for these tracks. Those mistakes add more personality and emotion to the track when they are pulled off successfully.
Polachek has mastered the art of floaty and airy vocals over more lowkey background tracks. The hooks to the songs are all extremely catchy, not only because of the vocals but because of the great electronic music underneath them. Both the vocals, and lyrics of this project are excellent. On tracks like “Pang,” Polachek masterfully crafts the emotional core of the song. She has developed a sing-songy speech that she uses to articulate the poetry of the song. You can see this pattern in tracks like “Go As a Dream” where Polachek is addressing the emptiness that she feels, the “joke without a punchline.”
Though many of the hooks on this project are quite catchy, there are some factors that may be a turn-off from Pang. First, listening to the album all in one sitting can be quite draining. The pace of the music is very slow, agonized and emotional. For those looking to get a boost of energy, this is not the one for you. Another issue is that Polachek will sing much higher than her vocal chords seem to allow, and this can be excruciatingly painful to sit through. The same vocal mistakes that add personality to tracks like “Hey Big Eyes” really detract from tracks like “Insomnia,” which is easily the worst track on the whole album.
Despite these misgivings, Polachek has crafted a master class in music that showcases her fantastic vocals. Her voice has the unique talent of having the subtlety and grace of a whispering lullaby, but also of being commanding like an operatic soloist. This is a great start to what is a quickly blooming solo career. Polachek leaves the listener with high hopes for future projects to come. With more time and experience, hopefully she will be able to completely overcome any limitations that she currently has. In stark contrast to last week’s review, this album deserves multiple listens. Polachek sets herself apart from the pack of Indie Pop singers that dominate the charts. Pang gets a strong 7/10, with the best tracks being “Pang,” “New Normal,” “Hit Me Where It Hurts,” “Go As a Dream,” “Caroline Shut Up,” “Parachute” and “So Hot You’re Hurting My Feelings.”