After two albums of country blues, New York’s Caroline Rose pivoted to bubblegum synth pop big on serious issues (misogyny, death, mental health), and began to exclusively wear the colour red. In doing so, she struck a chord of her own: 2018’s Loner introduced a new Rose who combined Martini-dry humour with a goofiness that made for an independent pop sound that, evidently, proved too awkward to make Rose the star she deserves to be.
It’s hard to work out how much she cares: Superstar sees her sticking with the red, the glittery synthesisers and the nods to R’n’B, soul and pop regardless, but via what seems to be the record’s self-inspired anti-hero, she’s also moved west to Hollywood, still in pursuit of fame.
Over the opening six tracks, Rose’s inability to write a dead melody continues as before, although where Loner was all about the message, the lyrics here are more difficult to pick out of the cocktail of synths and disco beats, meaning you’ll never know exactly how she’s rhymed “Paris” with “banana hammock” on ‘Got To Go My Own Way’ – one of a number of dancing-down-Main-Street, I’m-the-star-of-my-own-movie tunes that almost hit hard, but don’t quite.
Because life is a massive bastard, the not-so-cheery songs are the best, and they all arrive after all of that first-half hope. ‘Freak Like Me’ bridges the gap as an underdog love song with a jazzy, tumbling piano hook, followed by the stand-out ‘Someone New’, combining Fleetwood Mac and Klaxons, and ‘Pipe Dreams’ – perhaps one of the slow rollers that Rose has said she’s written for Lana Del Rey in the past.
As the record sighs to a close in even more LDR fashion, with ‘I Took A Ride’, Superstar is beginning to peak just as it’s ending, just as it’s getting really slow, just as Rose is at her lowest.