Thursday, March 3rd, 2022

Caroline Polachek – Billions

Our scale, on the other hand, only goes up to .00000001 billion.


Ian Mathers: It’s almost a shame that she left “Everything we want will require unfathomable violence/But contradictions are nothing new” out of the lyrics proper and just displays them onscreen during the video but really leaving the subtext slightly less spoken is probably the right move (and Polachek is an artist concerned enough with all the stuff that goes around the songs that it does feel like a very specific choice). The production occasionally sounds like we’re about to visit the City of Zeal (decadent, slightly unworldly, floating but possibly about to crash – where are my Chrono Trigger fans?), the vocals continue to be incredible, “Billions” feels both like it could usher in some mini-frenzy of Succession-core and like its performer is about to go full imperial. 

Micha Cavaseno: It’s a perverse nostalgia to think about the era when one could flay all the fringes of music and wear them as a coat. Personally I love revisiting old bhangra albums as a way of reminiscing for the hybrid days of yesterday when playing pretend mutation was in some way charming and exciting instead of insidious and hackneyed. After all, now who can trust the intentions of any musical surgeons? “Billions” is like a Björk song of my dreams in that it imagines the world of Vespertine with all of Talvin Singh’s body parts scattered around the room in opulent entitlement. A vile place of self-absorbed majesty, but the kind of world that still felt unnatural and unique and made you want to be anything but yourself. Polachek’s work is typically great for that because no matter how much I grow to like her work, I still find her music to be devoid of personal feeling but oozing with senses of achievement. When she slurs out the words “say something to me” in what feels like twelve accents stitched together into a gross little mesh, she manages to feel innocently compromised and corrupt in a way that pushes the heart to a deeply tragic place. The world where you lament the necessary righteousness to be good and right, and long for the days of the happy fallacy. 

Nortey Dowuona: The kicks in this beat pop in like the ridges of a spine, slowly strolling underneath Caroline’s voice, which peals and stretches ever so higher and in splattered gasps. The kick slips lower and lower, patiently waiting the halting chorus out, then leaps back up, purposeful and firm.

Leah Isobel: Caroline seems bound by classical notions of beauty and taste. This means she is compelled to search for beauty wherever she goes, to reproduce beauty in everything she does. What she does not do is question beauty; she never interrogates what it is for, who determines it, or where it comes from. There’s joy and feeling in her music, but rarely curiosity or empathy. Hence, “Billions” is beautiful as a mountain, unmoving as a fucking rock.

John Pinto: You’ve gotta be doing well to make a children’s choir work.

Edward Okulicz: Beautiful in the way an ornament you keep in a drawer might be, but it feels like it goes on and says little, and the choir is a mistake, highlighting and drawing out the least compelling part of the song. I feel like a bad person for giving this a middling score, but I can’t engage at all here.

Andrew Karpan: The slow ticking noise of coming dystopia: fragile, spacious electronica that dances around obvious cliches in order to find the deeper language contained therein. Better than “Bunny Is A Rider.” Better than Charli. Better than Gupi. The symphonically organized gasps of sound never go on too long and, in fact, some of the better ones are even too short.

Ady Thapliyal: I like the new age touches, especially the delicate tabla runs, which feel like a meaningful sonic progression from Pang. Could Polachek be to Enya what Hannah Diamond is to Lolly?

Wayne Weizhen Zhang: On a cosmic level, sweet and psycho. 

Reader average: [8.8] (5 votes)

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4 Responses to “Caroline Polachek – Billions”

  1. Missed blurbing this but it would’ve been an [8]. I’m just happy there’s someone out there keeping the legacy of Frou Frou alive.

  2. Really glad I happened to read Wayne’s blurbs for this and the Tiesto/Max track at the same time

  3. just tryna leave those little easter eggs

  4. Love Ian’s blurb. Chrono Trigger fan representing.