Frankie Rose – Interstellar (2012)

FRANKIE ROSE DEBUT A HEALTHY CHANGE OF PACE

Frankie Rose has made a career as the Tetris piece that just never seems to fit. Her profile will reveal more ‘former bands’ than official releases. Although she has always struggled to keep her feet firmly planted on the ground, she has never struggled to find praise. The Crystal Stilts, Vivian Girls and Dum Dum Girls were all well-received if not critically acclaimed before she hit the road. So it should come as no surprise that her second solo outing, Interstellar, this time without backing band “The Outs” on the end, is drawing so much praise from critics. The singular artist name is fitting as it marks the first entirely solitary act of someone who has fought so hard to make it that way.

Shedding any bubblegum tendencies she may have picked up with her former girl band brethren,  Rose makes it abundantly clear that Interstellar is going to be something a little darker, a little moodier than say the blatantly vintage sound of Dum Dum Girls. Every track is laced with enough synthesized grandeur to make Panda Bear proud, only uber exacerbated by her echoing chamber vocals. While the ambition is enough to admire, I think the most alluring part of this whole album is her voice. From the opening title track to the tender “Pair of Wings” to the piercing “Apples for the Sun,” Rose’s voice flows effortlessly to the point of hypnosis. As a mellowed out white boy, it’s hard not to close my eyes and sway from side to side. It’s definitely of the feel-good breed. The music, dreamy vocals and somewhat pensive lyrics go hand in hand all the way to the finish line.

The album is not without its flaws. I really had a hard time telling the songs apart, but that really could have been by design. Each song slips into the next without much changeover. You can either see this as a plus or a fault. It definitely gave it some degree of transcendence, but it also made it difficult for me to tell where I was and whether or not she had just decided to slowly jam out for half an hour. It really was a phenomenon. I have seldom listened to an album as consistent as this. No song seems better or worse or really that much different from the one before it. No euphoric highs. No embarrassing lows. The album just is. I don’t know how else to put it.

I’d rather have a consistently good album than an unpredictable series of peaks and valleys, and that’s what Rose has given us. It seems most of us can agree that the album brings a lot to the table, but everyone can agree that she’s better off on her own… at last.

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