Band of the Day

2012.05.15

Frankie Rose

A rock vet mixes surf, new wave, and classic vocal pop on a journey to outerspace
Been so blue, living in a dream. Never knew you, things aren't what they seem.
lyrics from Gospel/Grace

Singer-songwriter and multi-instrumentalist Frankie Rose has spent time in garage rock outfits such as Vivian Girls, Crystal Stilts, and the Dum Dum Girls. The Brooklyn-based musician decided in 2009 to work on her own material. Her single "Thee Only One" debuted on Slumberland Records in 2009 and led to the formation of Frankie Rose and The Outs, with Caroline Yes (bass), Kate Ryan (drums), and Margot Bianca (guitar). The group’s self-titled debut full-length album was released on Slumberland Records in 2010. For the next album Frankie left The Outs behind and went on to record 2012's Interstellar, which experimented with new-wave sound, and earned Best New Music honors from Pitchfork. Frankie Rose is currently touring across the US and gearing up for a UK tour.

Frankie Rose has quite the rock and roll resume. The drummer turned singer/songwriter has played with some of the last decade's most loved reverb-heavy garage rock revivalists, The Crystal Stilts and both “girls” bands, Dum Dum Girls and Vivian Girls. The Brooklyn-based artist's solo work is certainly from the same school of retro vocal harmonies, dreamy effects and rock grit, but her newest album reaches an incandescent grace that diverges from those bands. Rose titled the new album Interstellar, and the album does have a sense of movement and space. On “A Pair of Wings” Rose sings, “All that I want is a pair of wings to fly/into the blue of the wide open sky.” Rose may not be able to sprout wings, but close your eyes and crank Interstellar and you'll get the sense of speeding past the Kármán line and into a beautiful space beyond.

Rose does an excellent job of balancing elegant atmospherics and rock and roll fervor throughout the album, creating a collection of songs that ebb and flow beautifully. Maybe not so surprising considering her background, the highlights tend to be her more rockin' moments. “Know Me” balances a twee sensibility –whimsical lead guitar, thumping 80s style drum machine– with a hazy atmosphere and energetic core. Guitar chords ring luxuriously, like they were unleashed into space (an alternate universe where you can create sound in space, duh) while ghostly strings float in the background. Rose floats her way into an animated chorus of jangling guitar chords and catchy reverb-drenched vocal hooks. You'd be hard pressed to find a better resurrection of 80s new wave, and there's no shortage. Despite the rollicking tribal drums, “Gospel/Grace” is as the name implies, extremely graceful. Rose's vocals swirl in and out of the mix, forming gorgeous vocal harmonies, gliding to “oooohs” and “baddum bums” as if it was the first time anyone had used those traditional wordless lyrics. “Night Swim” nabs elements of surf rock, then eventually coalesces into the more muscular territory of Rose's former band the Dum Dum Girls with the best vocal hook on an album with some pretty great choruses.

Interstellar dips into a lot of different influences, classic vocal pop, surf rock, new wave, dream pop, but Rose manages to keep a consistence to it all. The album has an otherworldly feel to it, but Rose makes you feel right at home as she transports you to a truly beautiful place.