I’ve been listening to Caroline Rose for years now, and it’s been really cool to watch them transform, not just as a musician but as a person. And with their 2023 release The Art of Forgetting on New West Records, we certainly get that.
The Evolution of Caroline Rose
Each new album by Rose has been distinctly different from the ones that came before. This evolution has pushed them forward as an artist in very new and exciting ways. Their earliest work circa 2013 and 2014 — America Religious and I Will Not Be Afraid respectively — was infused with folk and country.
When Rose re-emerged in 2018 and 2019 with Loner and Superstar, their music was cemented in indie rock and indie pop. While both were particularly stunning, the latter, with its nu-disco-infused synth-pop was particularly, saw Rose having a bit of a reckoning with the newfound pseudo-underground fame Loner had spurned.
And that brings me to The Art of Forgetting. If Superstar was a self-reflective reckoning, The Art of Forgetting takes that concept and multiplies it by a hundred.
Before going further, here’s my coverage from YouTube:
The Art of Forgetting Review
The pandemic saw most people withdrawing, reflecting, and coming to terms with things they simply never had time to address, let alone face at all. We’re still in the midst of the creative outburst that world-wide event sparked, and The Art of Forgetting is steeped in it from the first note. Rose tackles fear and trauma, their sense of self and identity, and transformation itself.
It is here on this album they adopt the they/them pronouns for the first time.
And if Loner and Superstar moved Rose into a sort of sardonic pop maturity, The Art of Forgetting flips that on its head for some brutal truths.
The Music Videos
“Everything you love, it’s all gonna die… Now go out and start living the rest of your life,” Rose sings on closing track “Where Do I Go From Here?” In “Miami” they sing “You know you never knew my worth. Honestly, neither did I.”
Here’s the music video for “Miami:”
The album is highly emotional. Even in the moments where it doesn’t sound emotional. Lyrics aside, “Miami” is a prime example of this. Not convinced? Take a look at the music videos for “Miami” (above)) and “Tell Me What You Want” (below).
Like, seriously, watch them back to back. It’s a heart-wrenching experience. And paired together, the two are a gripping tale of rejection and heartbreak and mental anguish.
The Art of Forgetting Exposes Who We Are
Back to the beginning: “Love / Lover / Friend” opens the album with depth and agility. Where the synth was at the forefront in Superstar, Rose introduces us to pretty intense orchestration here, and it’s something they highlight throughout The Art of Forgetting. Take a listen:
Then there’s “The Kiss” — where Rose seems to find their sense of self elsewhere on the album, they let go of some of that here. “For the kiss, I would do most anything.” It’s a powerful song addressing loneliness, isolation, longing, and emptiness. The Art of Forgetting is the most personal work from Rose yet, and in looking inward they communicate some hard truths about us all, individually and societally.
Rose seemed to don a mask on their prior albums, the ones that sparked more attention in their direction. Sarcasm, wit, self-deprecation—the albums were infused with those things. Here, though, on The Art of Forgetting, they shed the mask and face us as themself for what may truly be the first time.
Collector’s Edition Vinyl
My copy is the more expensive “Collector’s Edition Vinyl” pressing of The Art of Forgetting. It comes as a limited edition, one-time pressing with a lenticular 3-dimensional cover and audiophile 45RPM clear vinyl.
A few other vinyl pressings exist, including what appears to be the standard version on green wax, a “unique eco friendly mix” pressing, and a Rough Trade Exclusive on green wax that comes with a bonus flexi disc featuring non LP track “Shame.”
An Early Contender for Best Album of 2023
The Art of Forgetting is already among my favorite collective new albums of 2023 in a year already teeming with great — the new LP by Brian Jonestown Massacre which many have hailed as Anton Newcombe’s best work since his debut Methodrone in 1995 and This Stupid World by Yo La Tengo. Hell, even the new LP by The New Pornographers is likely to be their best since 2007’s Challengers.
The Art of Forgetting gives them all a run for their money. I have no qualms making a prediction, this will not only be on my year-end list, it’ll be high up there at that!