Caroline Rose says I’m a little off base.
We’re talking about her latest release, Loner, out last year on New West Records. I mention how the record seems to be mussing the hair and tweaking the nose of the indie-rock hipster intelligentsia.
When making the record, did she intend to upturn that apple cart?
She says no, though she does agree humor is a big part of what she does. “It’s meant to not be taken seriously,” she says. “That was one of the things I was trying to get across.” Nevertheless, she says, “It’s pretty sad material.”
“None of these songs are necessarily happy. It helps me get through some difficult things that are hard to deal with.” Rose says feeling like she doesn’t fit in with the hipster intelligentsia culture is part of what she does, but “a lot of my humor is self-deprecating.”
Nevertheless, lyrics like “I go to a friend of a friend’s party / Everyone’s well dressed with a perfect body / And they all have alternative haircuts and straight white teeth / But all I see is just more of the same thing,” from album-track “More of the Same,” have a definite tone of the outsider commenting on an inner circle she feels she doesn’t belong to, an inner circle she’s not even sure she likes in the first place.
Instead of Rose’s satire pointing toward the increasingly axiomatic world of indie rock, Rose says her humor is deeply personal. “Humor and satire can be used as a powerful tool to speak to the masses without offending the powers that be because you’re talking about your personal situations,” she says.
Regardless of Rose’s intentions at the outset, Loner is a highly engaging, effective — and funny — goosing of a subculture largely gone stale. The album is also a sampler plate of sounds du jour, from the lighter-hearted Beach House-style dream pop of “Jeannie Becomes a Mom” to the hyperactive synth-punk take-down of crass careerism “Money,” in which Rose sings, “Didn’t do it for the sex / didn’t do it for the law / I did it for the money.”
Rose is talking to me from Austin, where she’s already recording a follow-up to Loner. “It is meant to be a sequel,” she says. “I’m jumping off from where Loner ended.” She wants the two records to be viewed in tandem, she says. Loner “was meant to be sort of an introduction to my personality and the voice that I’m trying to create,” she says. “The next album is going to be way more in-depth.”
Most of all, Rose hopes to write great pop songs, calling Swedish pop über-producer Max Martin (Britney Spears, Ariana Grande, Taylor Swift) a hero of hers.
“He’s still got it,” she says. “It’s just so good. The reason why I love those songs is the economy of time. Max Martin is classically trained. He has an amazing ability to write songs, and he crams them into a three-minute format, which I find truly impressive. It’s so much more complex than that.”
Caroline Rose Sunday, Feb. 24 • 7 pm. Hi-Fi Music Hall Lounge. $12 advance, $15 door. 21-plus.