A Deep Dive Into Caroline Polacheks Fantastical Opus Desire I Want to Turn Into You
Photo by Mauricio Santana/Getty Images

A Deep Dive Into Caroline Polachek’s Fantastical Opus, Desire, I Want to Turn Into You

In this episode of the Pitchfork Review podcast, our critics talk about how the indie star is building her own heady pop mythology.

Co-hosted by Editor-in-Chief Puja Patel and Reviews Director Jeremy D. Larson, and featuring guest critics and contributors, our weekly podcast includes in-depth analysis of the new music we find extraordinary, exciting, and just plain terrible. This week, Associate Editor Cat Zhang explains how death, pleasure, and devotion combine and combust on Caroline Polachek’s latest solo album, Desire, I Want to Turn Into You—and why one song brings to mind Hilary Duff on an Italian stage in shiny lavender pants.

Listen to this week’s episode below, and follow The Pitchfork Review here. You can also check out an excerpt of the podcast’s transcript below. 

Puja Patel: Cat, what makes Caroline so compelling and interesting and different as a pop artist? 

Cat Zhang: There’s the meticulousness and breadth of her vision, along with this cerebral aspect. We did a Moodboard interview with her around her last album, Pang, and some of the influences that she lists are just crazy, like a 1950s Disney illustrator, the 1998 Fall/Winter Versace ad campaign, and the 17th-century French blackwork engraver Jacques Hurtu. 

Jeremy D. Larson: [laughs] Oh, him.

Patel: Ah, yes, Jacques. 

Zhang: And when I interviewed her before the Pitchfork Festival in 2021, she was talking about being really into scents from Freud’s granddaughter and searching for one that smells just like sweat. Who has such curated influences in that way? All of those fascinating detours, and the intricacy of her mind, really shows through on this new album. But despite her being someone who is so cerebral, the album doesn’t come off as brain-in-a-jar. It’s very sensory. And very attuned to pleasure and what it is like to be a human and to be in someone’s thrall. 

Larson: Which speaks to the title of the album: Desire, I Want to Turn Into You

Zhang: I love the album title. It works on so many levels. Like when you’re really into someone, you want to know everything about them, almost to the point where you want to be them. There’s this whole subgenre of TikToks where girls are just like, “I want to crawl into my boyfriend’s skin.” Which is kind of weird, but— 

Larson: Body horror as a sign of affection. 

Zhang:  Yeah. So the title gestures to that idea of wanting to fuse yourself with someone else, but being the desirer is a really hard and sometimes painful thing. So to turn into desire would be to have access to this beauty, but to not be subjected to the pain of it.