This most personal album may not have the immediacy of Superstar or Loner but, given time, it will prove just as emotionally affecting
Like all the best musical artists, it’s hard to predict which way Caroline Rose is going to turn. After their debut with the rootsy Americana of I Am Not Afraid in 2014, they then switched effortlessly with the indie-pop masterpiece that was Loner. Then, just before the pandemic closed the world down, Rose released Superstar, a funky, synth-heavy journey that was robbed of an audience due to lockdown.
Now, three years later, Caroline Rose has returned with another volte-face. The Art Of Forgetting is an album forged in heartbreak, and Rose draws on material such as a break-up, a relative’s experience with dementia, and the sense of panic and unease that a global pandemic can cause. It’s a slow-burner of a record, lacking the immediacy of Loner, but if you spend some time with it, it soon begins to reveal how good it is.
There’s a loose concept threaded all the way through The Art Of Forgetting – not as high-concept of Superstar’s theme about a pop star seeking fame and fortune, but something more affecting. Throughout the album are little interludes of their grandmother leaving voice notes to Rose, and unlike most spoken word interludes, the poignancy adds a lot to the album. Mixed in with some of Rose’s most personal work to date, it sometimes almost feels intrusive to listen to.
Opening track Love/Lover/Friend sets out the more downbeat tone from the off – it’s quiet, with the sound of a guitar being gently plucked underneath Rose’s electronically processed vocals. This and the following track Rebirth are deliberately muted with a kind of tension pulsing through the music. It’s only on Miami where that tension breaks, full of attention-grabbing lyrics like “when she came out of the shower, I went down on her” before turning onto a break up anthem, with Rose passionately declaring “this is the hard part, the part they don’t tell you about, there is the art of loving, this is the art of forgetting how”.
Everywhere I Go I Bring The Rain is, despite its title, a big burst of sunny jangly pop, the upbeat tone contrasting nicely with its self-deprecating lyrics like “everything I thought that I was is baseless, I’m the weight that you are free of”. Tell Me What You Want and Love Song For Myself also have a restless energy that adds a bit of a swagger to the record.
Although it’s essentially an album of accessible guitar pop songs, there’s also a fair degree of experimentalism bubbling under the surface. The Doldrums has an appropriately disorientating feel to it, with a dreamy haze of instrumentalism, while Jill Says is simply a song about her therapist, and is another track with a woozy, atmospheric sheen draped all over it. It’s maybe not a song to sing along to, but slip a pair of headphones on and let the sound envelop you and the effect becomes quite hypnotic.
The final track Where Do I Go From Here sounds like Rose taking stock of their situation and resolving to make the best of it – “pick yourself up babe, you’re gonna be fine, take in a deep breath, quit wasting your time” as one line puts it. It also ends with Rose replying to their grandmother’s voice notes, rounding off the record on a touching note.
It’s an appropriate way to sign off Caroline Rose’s most personal album to date which, while it may not have the immediacy of Superstar or Loner it will, given time, prove just as emotionally affecting.