February 13, 2012

Album Review: Frankie Rose's Interstellar

Not many people can boast a musical résumé which includes being an original part of Vivian Girls, Crystal Stilts and Dum Dum Girls. Then again, not many people can say they voluntarily decided to leave any of those projects either thinking there would be something bigger for them just around the corner. Yet, that's precisely the creative decision Frankie Rose has consistently taken, ultimately leading the Williamsburg scene constant to finally strike out under her own name and her name alone. No longer billing herself with her backing band "the Outs," Ms. Rose starts afresh once more with her second full-length release for the shoegazing indie Slumberland Records. While Interstellar signifies the death knell to today's '60s girl group-homaging acts she helped build, it only flirts with the full potential the artist known as Frankie Rose has to make a much larger impact under her own terms.

Interstellar is foremost a gorgeous and admirably different listen than anything Rose has done thus far, but it's not without slight fault. As a student of the so-called "class of C86," Rose still finds her muse heavily indebted in jangly uptempo melodies peeking their way behind a curtain of distortion. On this effort however, she sharpens up her pop stylus with beautifully crystalline guitars that muck away large amounts of reverb, in turn bringing Rose's vocals to the forefront rather than behind a haze of 'gaze. The most poignant displays of this new found clarity arrive right from Interstellar's start with the album's title track, a cascading star burst of love emissions that give way to the LP's heartstopping first single "Know Me", the subsequent gallop in "Gospel / Grace" and later on, "Daylight Sky" and "Night Swim" -- All strong-headed listens schooled in the best of '80s new wave and dream pop influence.

Despite several applaudable examples of growth, Interstellar's most climactic moments get slightly bogged down by the dark matter found within the album's quieter, exploratory takes. "Pair of Wings" and "Had We Had It" -- while back-to-back complimentary -- overstay their welcome through repetition while the albums final three tracks ("Apples for the Sun," "Moon In My Mind," "The Fall") are deep-seeded in a galaxy of lost ambiance, creating an easy disconnect from the direct nature of Interstellar's beauty and layers of emotion. Missteps not withstanding, Frankie Rose has done something here on Interstellar that is completely futile to her career as a reformed "girl group" member, and that's redefining her identity through riskier avenues she's yet to conquer. Interstellar proves Ms. Rose can go sky-high using her impeccable pop tact, but it just as easily let's us know she's still working on not getting lost in the atmosphere.

Frankie Rose's Interstellar will be released February 21, 2012 on Slumberland Records.

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