Review : Frankie Rose - Interstellar
PrettymuchamazingAttention all lo-fi indie acts ceaselessly pasting vintage Polaroids on your 7” covers: you may be too late. “There’s definitely something really beautiful about being washed in reverb. I know I’m attracted to that. But my ears are getting tired of it. It would be refreshing to hear something cleaner,” Frankie Rose confesses to Pitchfork.
Sounds like Ms. Rose wishes to blaze new trails elsewhere, like any artist worth their salt. Trim away the familiar (the hazy reverb, post-pop guitar) and bolster the reverie snapshots of being simply Frankie Rose (The Outs are still intact don’t worry). Letting Brooklyn dodger/mashup maven Le Chev man the soundboards, at their private studio enclave dubbed The Thermometer Factory, allowed all the accoutrement to melt away — leaving the skeletal remnants frozen with the glo-fi shivers.
Unlike many album titles, Interstellar should be taken literally, or metaphysically, whichever hits you first. Our opening title track is suspended in a cosmic interlude of airy synths and flatlined whispers that gently cushion murmurs of “interstellar highways” and “moon dust.” All at once the levels rise, the cymbals crash and the girls resonate in harmony like a chrome tuning fork. Thunderous bass drum anchors the oscillation between utter bewilderment and Neko Case frenzy....full text
PitchforkFrankie Rose spent a few years kicking around the Brooklyn jangle-pop scene before striking out on her own: As the most charismatic member of Vivian Girls, Crystal Stilts, and Dum Dum Girls, she was a reliable bolt of onstage electricity enlivening the often noncommittal presences around her. It was pretty clear, even then, that she was eventually destined for bigger things, but her first solo record, recorded under the name Frankie Rose and the Outs, still felt constrained by a reflexive sort of cool-kid slouch. Between that record and Interstellar, she has dropped the pretense of a backing band entirely, and is recording simply as "Frankie Rose." The implicit point is clear: This time around, she's going for it.
The first moments of "Interstellar" make this point immediately. The song opens on a cool-blue vista of synthesizers, a transportingly vast sound of the sort Frankie's never made before. When her voice enters the mix, cooing about interstellar highways and moon dust, it's piped from above, passed through a series of filters so until she slightly resembles the Laurie Anderson of "O Superman". A minute in, a massive, Valhalla-pound drum hit resounds, the synths explode sideways, and Frankie hurls us down a flume ride of descending vocal harmonies. It's the most colorful, thrilling music of her career, and as grand a pronouncement as one can make that we're not doing things the same way anymore.
Interstellar is a big, second-album leap of faith into deeper waters, a sparkling synth-pop record that wants very badly to mean something to dreamy, hyper-emotional twentysomethings. For her model, she's taken the impression of some of the dreamiest, most hyper-emotional records of her youth. The production on Interstellar is gorgeous, and clearly modeled on the Cure's big, panoramic pop records, like Disintegration: booming-canyon drums, acres of spannable horizon. The drum beat that opens up "Know Me" is virtually identical to that of "Close to Me", and the silvery guitar leads on "Gospel/Grace" are pretty much mimeographed from "Plainsong". But although Rose indulges pretty heavily in the Cure's primary colors, she paints something distinctly her own with them. The world of Interstellar is a vision of paradise as lifted from the front of a Trapper Keeper: air-brushed, pastel-hued, and gloriously vivid....full text
TreblezineAs a member of Crystal Stilts, Vivian Girls and Dum Dum Girls, as well as the leader of The Outs, Frankie Rose lived a life of reverb, garage fetishism and retro cool. And by and large, with any of the most impressive garage and girl-group inspired tunes to emerge in an explosion of like-minded acts in the past few years, Rose's writing or performing credit was most likely to be found. But the Brooklyn multi-instrumentalist and singer-songwriter has more than covered those bases, and has since moved on to more expansive territory, shedding the fuzzy, lo-fi aesthetic on Interstellar and, instead, embracing a crisper, brighter dream pop sound.
The first clue that Interstellar, Rose's first solo album, is a journey on an entirely new path lies within the name. There's a spacious, cosmic aesthetic at play here, Rose's voice frequently surrounded by glimmering layers of chorus and delay, the atmosphere twinkling and glowing like stars in a distant sky. At times, the miasmic ambience gives off a very vivid sensation of floating, a handful of tracks even doing away with percussion for the sake of allowing the songs an even more palpable weightlessness. In fact, the album almost literally takes off within the opening title track, its keyboard drones gathering like primordial chemicals that end up crashing in their own magnificent fuzz-pop Big Bang shortly after the one-minute mark.
After a triumphant arrival such as that of "Interstellar," attempting to a similar kind of bombast would prove difficult, though an introduction of that caliber is best left to stand on its own. The other nine songs on Interstellar may not explode with the same kind of drama, but Rose's songwriting and note-perfect performances are top notch throughout, from the synth-heavy post-punk bliss of "Know Me" to the hypnotic buzz and jangle of "Gospel/Grace."
Though much of Interstellar looks beyond Rose's past work toward headier and more massive sonic ideals, some of the album's brightest moments serve as more polished and nuanced updates to the noise pop she's done so well in recent years. The pulsing "Night Swim" shimmers with dark energy, honing in on a similar vibe to her work with Crystal Stilts, but bearing the intensity of Joy Division's best singles, as well as some of the best vocal harmonies on the album. Rose dives back into the reverb for the haunting "Apples for the Sun," which is built around a simple three-chord piano progression. And the combination of surf-inspired riffs and sinister, post-punk bass on "Moon In My Mind" achieves a mastery of aesthetic cool that's simply breathtaking....full text
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