It’s hard to describe, but go with me on this: imagine someone beat-box imitating the sound an old record player makes when it gets to the end but doesn’t stop spinning. That is the first glorious sound on “Nothing’s Impossible,” the opening track of Superstar, the latest album by crimson hero Caroline Rose. It is wound tightly around its titular concept. It’s also an enormous amount of fun.
Our starlet protagonist is a heightened version of Rose herself, who has grown considerably since her previous LP, LONER. On that effort, she proved herself to be a deft songwriter, executing dense, mostly silly stories on each track. And their variety in style and sound made it a collection that, despite its haphazard narrative, inspired repeat listens from front to back.
Maintaining that grinning enthusiasm, Rose made sure that Superstar had a clear emotional throughline. She told Atwood Mag, “I gave it a lot of thought – I had a whiteboard with all the songs laid out. I was like ‘This is what I need to feel, this is how it needs to feel on this track, during this track…’” Not to mention the lyrical motifs that sneak up on you like a Shyamalan twist.
LA gets pigeonholed as the place where people go to chase their dreams, which makes it perfect fodder for this record. Rose is based in New York, the other concrete jungle where dreams are made, but the old glamour of Hollywood overcomes her alter-ego; “I’m moving to LA, I’ll weekend in Paris,” she declares on “Got To Go My Own Way.” Her destiny called from the Chateau Marmont, and then she’s leaving Paris behind for a beach in Southern France on “Pipe Dreams.”
Of course the journey on Superstar is more than just physical. Rose arranged the album like a Shakespearian tragedy, give or take an act, where each few songs mark the next (psychological) stop on the way to stardom. And in every chapter, there is a considerable lack of chill: there’s “Freak Like Me” for obvious reasons; “Command Z” spirals in on itself, quite literally; and “Do You Think We’ll Last Forever?” even features an homage to “Bad Romance” (unintentionally? I saw that ”Applause” shirt in the “Feel the Way I Want” video, so I suspect we have a little monster in our midst).
Yet, among all the silliness, there is such heart. The production breathes like a humble analog recording, embellished only on the edges in a similar style to the White Stripes or Arcade Fire. That leaves the spotlight open to shine directly on Rose and her entrancing melodies or subtle wisdom; “I Took a Ride,” the album’s closer, is the best of both worlds.
Visually represented by the character on the cover, our protagonist is at the end of the line, having become entirely disillusioned by fame. She has a keen determination to win back her lover, not unlike the buzzing mosquito rustling through some cellophane, but lest we forget where our greatest strength lies: “Some men might think that/A woman is weak because she cries/But nothing is stronger than a lover’s lonely tear.”