Among the recent generation of garage-pop groups with mostly female members, Frankie Rose, for all intents and purposes, could be considered the sub genre’s Kevin Bacon. The Brooklyn songstress has enjoyed spells with indie heavy hitters The Vivian Girls, Crystal Stilts and The Dum Dum Girls, as well as fronting her own band, The Outs, on their 2010 self-titled debut album.
And while it’s safe to say that all the above mentioned bands made their names on combining the innocence of 60’s girl group pop with waves of distortion, punk muscle, and insouciant melancholy, Frankie Rose appears to have bigger ideas on her mind. Flashes of brilliance on Frankie Rose and the Outs (including the delirious Spectorian harmonies of “Little Brown Haired Girls”) pointed out that Rose had no problem writing next-level pop songs that were at times notches above her reverb laden peers, and now her latest release Interstellar embraces influences that were rarely, if ever, associated with her former bands: chilly new wave, jittery post-punk, and Kate Bush inspired art-pop.
The title track, and album opener, showcases Rose’s intent from the word go, with clouds of ambient synth enveloping her angelic vocals which detail swift journeys on “interstellar highways” veiled in “moon dust” before smashing into the wordless, kick drum driven chorus. It’s a thrilling track one that easily possesses symphonic flush and razor sharp pop instincts of classic Echo and The Bunnymen without all the posing, goth rock baggage.
Songs like the Joy Division-lite “Night Swim,” the down-tempo piano driven “Apples for the Sun,” and atmospheric guitar/cello duet “The Fall” provide fascinating examples of Rose’s range that always sound like earned explorations rather than indulgent experiments. However, Interstellar’s heart lies with the centerpiece couplet of the delicate “Pair of Wings” and the pulsing “Had We Had It,” both of which benefit from cavernous production (complete with airy keyboard textures on “Pair” and a chugging, sinewy guitar line on “Had We”) and allow Rose’s blossoming vocal work to soar the highest on the entire album.
Rose managed to wrangle all of her sonic ambitions into tight, imminently listenable 3:00 minute pop songs that make the jangley girl-group sound of her former projects seem like a distant memory. Interstellar is an album bursting at the seams with ideas, and Frankie rose shows no signs of doubt as she makes a bold step forward in her burgeoning solo career.