Caroline Polachek’s ‘Desire, I Want To Turn Into You’ is a Stylistic Masterpiece


Caroline Polachek Performs at London’s “Roundhouse” (Courtesy

By Audrey Hall, Arts Writer


On Feb. 14, Caroline Polachek released her latest album, “Desire, I Want To Turn Into You.” Polachek started her music career in 2005 in a duo named “Chairlift” with Aaron Pfenning, but branched off into her solo career in 2017. Since then, she has amassed over 3 million monthly listeners on Spotify, as well as over 124,000 subscribers on YouTube. It has been about three and a half years since Polacheck released a new album, but she has been promoting “Desire” since December of 2022 when she released four of the album’s tracks as an EP

The Voice of a Siren

When I first listened to Polachek’s new album, I was a bit disappointed by the fact that her voice sounded as if it had been overly auto-tuned. While it’s no uncommon practice for musicians these days, autotune can take away from the genuine nature of an artist’s talents.

However, upon listening to a few videos of her singing live, it became clear that she is not using autotune to create a style in her voice, but rather, the style is already there. The control she holds over her breath and her pitch creates an eerie yet angelic quality to her music that can bring a tear to anyone’s eye. 

Stylized Desire

Stylistically, “Desire” sits in a realm of indie pop that balances what is popular while pushing boundaries into what can be defined as “pop” in the first place. It’s a great starting point for those who want to listen to more indie music but enjoy the peppy and catchy vibes of those like Ariana Grande or Lady Gaga

With catchy beats and memorable choruses, the first three songs in “Desire” have all the makings of radio-worthy hits. Following “Welcome To My Island,” “Pretty In Possible” and “Bunny Is A Rider,” however, is “Crude Drawing Of An Angel.” This is where the tone really shifts, moving into something that feels more like if Phoebe Bridgers were a siren with a forbidden love affair. 

It isn’t until track 11, “Smoke,” that the aforementioned pop elements of Polachek’s music are restored, bringing the listener in a full loop back to the beginning of the album by the time they reach closing track, “Billions.” The flow of one song into another is masterful, and nothing feels out of place when they are listened to in order. Although the instrumentals in the more pop-forward songs are a bit assertive for my liking, it fits well with the songs and style as a whole. 

Lyrical Poetry

Polachek uses references to Greek mythology, Christianity, Hinduism and Shakespeare’s sonnets in her lyrics to display a wide range of emotions and coping mechanisms when faced with loss. The entire first track, “Welcome To My Island,” is a reference to Odysseus visiting the island of Circe in “The Odyssey.” According to a contributor on Genius Lyrics, she also references the complicated relationship she maintained with her father, who passed away from COVID-19 in 2020. 

In an interview with Vulture Magazine, Polachek spoke on the ongoing motif of volcanoes being a representation of feelings of desire. “A lot of the motifs I’m playing with on this record are about using elemental, primal textures […] as a metaphor for the subconscious and for everything we’ve repressed during the pandemic,” she said.

It is clear throughout “Desire” that Polachek puts a lot of thought into every word that is used in each song, and almost anything can reveal a deeper meaning if one digs deep enough. “Blood and Butter” in particular holds a lot of dichotomy between femininity and masculinity, sin and righteousness.

Overall, “Desire, I Want To Turn Into You” is a breathtaking album that not only displays Polachek’s talents as an artist, but also reaches deep into her psyche to show the audience another side of her. 


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