Posted by: Jeff | March 27, 2012

Album Review: Frankie Rose – “Interstellar”

Frankie Rose – Interstellar [Buy Here]

Slumberland Records
Release Date: February 2012
Grade: B+

Frankie Rose – “Interstellar”

If an initial listen to a Frankie Rose album starts to sound vaguely familiar, it is likely due to its shared ambience with the work of two bands that Rose helped found, the Dum Dum Girls and the Vivian Girls, both of whom have found moderate success in the past few years as all-female psych-pop outfits.  Flying solo, Rose uses some familiar sounds but puts them to good use.  With an album title implying the vast cosmos, it is fitting that Rose utilizes her freedom to explore new territory.

The album opens in an ambient wash, invoking the interstellar landscape of its name.  Rose’s voice wafts gently, as in a lullaby.  Then, about a minute in, there’s a swell of guitar and a cavalcade of drums.  The rest of the title track propels forth, speeding the listener through an expansive atmospheric wall of sound reminiscent of the production work of Phil Spector.  “Interstellar” is a grand sonic statement of separation from her former bands, incorporating synth work and much broader atmospheric textures, but it remains rooted in her influences.

Rose’s music is evocative and associative, co-opting the beach fuzz feel of past acts like The Ronettes and the post-punk jangle pop of Siouxsie and the Banshees to create an album at once both nostalgic and gazing toward the future.  “Know Me” features drums straight from the eighties, as Rose’s lyrics echo against her own backing vocals.  It’s a neat production trick that adds depth to the vocals, and showcases how meticulously crafted much of the music on ‘Interstellar’ is.  It’s a very well-produced album, and though Rose doesn’t try a whole lot of new tricks, those that she does produce turn out quite well.

“Daylight Sky” features more predominant synth work that lends the track a new wave synth-pop feel like something straight off the Factory Records label.  “Pair of Wings”, by contrast, is a lovely ballad that highlights the beauty of Rose’s breathy voice.  On an album of strong songs, “Wings” is a standout, shifting gears downward to float calmly in the space created by minimal percussion and distant synths.  “All I ever wanted / was a pair of wings to fly” Rose coos, an ode to nostalgia that matches the wistful instrumentation.  “Had We Had It” builds gently out of the interlude, adding synth and guitar to an understated but pulsing drumbeat.  “Moon In My Mind” winds around a sinister bass riff befitting a Joy Division track before fading softly into “The Fall”, a largely instrumental track that brings the album to a gentle conclusion.

Clocking in at only 31 minutes, ‘Interstellar’ is just a brief foray into Rose’s world, but it reveals a wonderfully evocative soundscape that expands beyond the borders of jangly psych-pop that constrain the work of Rose’s previous bands.  On her own, Rose has created ample space to explore, and the result is an enjoyable effort worthy of repeat listens.

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