Karolina Rose and her synth pop EP, Invicta, hold many certifiably commendable moments. The singer has racked up a few thousand plays and some rotation on radio. The January 31 release features present, sugary alto melodies combined with synth waves and booming, faithful drumlines delivered by producer Andros Rodriguez (Shakira, Florence and the Machine). For those involved, the talent is clear. Rose’s voice is built for power along the lines of singers such as Amy Lee or Lynn Gunn, while the instrumental composition will attract fans of Daft Punk and John Carpenter (Dir., Halloween).
Invicta is a set of songs you wish you could enjoy more. While it is obvious everyone involved is passionate about the project and that the talent is there, the elements therein (instrumentals, lyrics, melodies, and other aspects) are a mismatch. Many things may be causing this: one is the synth instruments chosen just simply don’t match the singer’s vocal tone especially on songs such as “Going to Berlin” and “Crystal Gem.”
Another issue could be that the melodies she uses don’t always connect with the lyrics, or they need more of a dress-up. Speaking of lyrics, the singer’s narrative/analysis style distracts from the flow of the EP, and a few dashes of overused song concepts are a bit too sprinkled throughout (“just go with the flow,” “Love, it makes you do crazy things,” and “What will be, will be”). “Crystal Gem” throws a volley of statements at its listener but lacks direction. “Check my pulse to see if I’m alive,” is a statement made on “Move With Me,” which prompted this thought: “If you have the ability to check your pulse, wouldn’t it be obvious that you are, in fact, alive?”
A quick Google search lands live audio and video of Ms. Rose on acoustic guitar in Hollywood. She’s clearly a multidimensional artist with much potential. Invicta could have had a lot of unique flavor by adding acoustic elements, but the quiet guitar strums at the opening of “Love Crazy” is all we get. What Invicta misses is less production. Sometimes, it is best to strip things down; this is one of those times.
This music is adaptable, though. On the highlight tracks like “Downhill,” Rose’s voice weaves around a quiet synth beat and stays followable, while on “Goodnight, Mr. Moon,” the music quiets down and allows Rose to expose the subtler qualities of her voice. As a first effort, Invicta leaves room for growth and also shows many aspects of Rose’s artistry, but misses the mark as far as connection.
Invicta is available for listening and downloads on all major platforms.
Key tracks: Downhill, Goodnight, Mr. Moon, Love Crazy