Frankie Rose Interstellar Review

Released 2012.  

BBC Review

Rose’s strength and versatility as a composer shines through on this second LP.

Noel Gardner 2012

Prior to Interstellar, her second album, Frankie Rose had toiled in a niche of modern indie-rock which was starting to appear saturated. Moreover, part of the blame for the proliferation of the style in question – sweet’n’sour confections of girl-group harmony-pop and Jesus and Mary Chain-style guitar feedback – could be laid at her door. Based in Brooklyn, she played drums in the initial line-up of Vivian Girls, whose first few records were justified critical smashes, and has also served as sticksperson for the not dissimilar Dum Dum Girls and Crystal Stilts. Even when she graduated to vocalist in her new band, Frankie Rose and the Outs, there was a profound familiarity to the doe-eyed fuzz of their self-titled 2010 album.

A degree of reinvention, perhaps necessary to avoid an impasse, finds Rose diving into the abyss of 1980s chart pop. Gated drums, multi-tracked vocals, innocently fresh sequencers – with the help of producer Le Chev (normally a remixer for bands like Passion Pit), these are the surface motifs of Interstellar. Her songwriting is not greatly altered: tunes most often travel at an energetic tempo, with melodies shining through the thickly applied reverb and helping the likes of Know Me to soar. The presentation, however, recalls the Cocteau Twins during the album’s most abstract moments – final two songs Moon in My Mind and The Fall – and, for the more objectively ‘pop’ turns, The Primitives or even Garbage minus the hard rock parts.

Coincidentally or otherwise, Frankie Rose’s sonic evolution has much in common with the Dum Dum Girls, who were significantly more polished than previously on last year’s Only in Dreams full-length. Rose has greater strength and versatility as a composer, though. Placed next to each other in the running order, the Factory Records-like synthesised indie of Daylight Sky and Pair of Wings’ Kate Bush bombast sound like odd bedfellows on paper, but are linked by way of their creator’s arresting (if heavily treated) vocals and a general lofty ambition. As much as Interstellar is a success, though, Rose might have to switch up styles again next time or risk slipping into shtick.

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