Release Date: Sep 21, 2010
Record label: Memphis Industries
Genre(s): Pop/Rock, Alternative/Indie Rock, Alternative Pop/Rock, Indie Rock, Indie Pop, Noise Pop
Frankie Rose has sure been busy of late, setting up an infrastructure of bands in the Brooklyn area and California (drumming for Crystal Stilts and The Dum Dum Girls, playing bass in Vivian Girls) that fawn over messy sounds and the American music of yesteryear. From this vastly growing output, Frankie Rose and the Outs feels like Frankie’s most love struck project, her most restless experiment and her most chemically intoxicated effort to date. At first this sounds like a Breeders record, albeit one that was recorded in 1970.
[b]Frankie Rose[/b] has graced the line-ups of so many of the current crop of shangrilo-fi dream-pop grrrl groups there should really be a specialist Six Degrees Of… drinking game named in her honour. But after stints in [a]Vivian Girls[/a], [a]Crystal Stilts[/a] and [a]Dum Dum Girls[/a], she’s finally put down roots with [a]The Outs[/a] and made an album of hypnotic, woozy-headed pop that owes as much to Spacemen 3 as it does Spector’s wall of sound. And bloody good it is, too.
Frankie Rose and the Outs' self-titled debut album could have been viewed as a textbook case of bandwagon jumping when it came out in late 2010. The fuzzy, heavily reverbed take on classic girl group pop played and sung by women was quite popular and on the verge of being overdone. Rose was no Frankie-come-lately though; she played drums with an early lineup of the Vivian Girls (and wrote their best song, “Where Do You Run To”), and was in the live version of the Dum Dum Girls (as well as the Crystal Stilts, though she was the only girl in the band).
Frankie Rose is the binding agent of Brooklyn's indie pop microscene, having played with Vivian Girls, Dum Dum Girls and Crystal Stilts. She's given up drumming for singing now, but she's still hanging round with the same crowd: the Velvet Underground, Phil Spector, the Jesus and Mary Chain, 60s garage. She's also spoken of listening to Spacemen 3 while making the album, and that's most evident in the exquisite, gradual layering of the hymnal opener, Hollow Life.
Frankie Rose pretty much owns the Spector-ized land of filtered lala and dreamy girl gaze at this point, steadily dabbling in its ghostly romantic charm. With Frankie Rose and The Outs, her first self-accredited rock music excursion, Rose predictably weaves femininity and cherubic harmonics with garage rock, resulting in a pretty, albeit somewhat tired, retreading of familiar waters. Certainly this album is not a "long, long way from home," so sings the first single, Little Brown Haired Girls.
It's almost like Frankie Rose has been planning this all along. The endless quitting and joining and quitting (she's drummed for Vivian Girls, Crystal Stilts, and Dum-Dum Girls), that underwhelming, same-old-same-old first single from last year, her assertion that she chose her band members less for their technical skills than for their personalities: It's as if Rose wanted us to think this self-titled LP could be nothing more than a shallow, nothing-special vanity project. And then come the sustained, quavering organ chords of album opener "Hollow Life," which sort of sounds like Grouper would sound if Liz Harris was a human being and not a woodland nymph.
Frankie Rose is a Brooklyn bartender best known for her drum/vocal/guitar work with fuzzed-out retro acts like Crystal Stilts, Vivian Girls, and Dum Dum Girls. As she bounced from one project to the next (in some cases before she was even considered a proper member), the distinctive threads that joined these bands-- garage-rock ethos, dour jangle pop, 60s girl-group harmonies, questionable sonic fidelity-- suggested Rose had a clearly defined musical M.O. But with her fourth project in almost as many years, Rose is taking on a different approach: She seems intent on creating a harmonically driven, high-fidelity throwback pop album-- a novel concept among the dozens of her lo-fi peers looking to similar sounds for inspiration.
Frankie Rose has played in Vivian Girls, Dum Dum Girls, and Crystal Stilts, so it’s easy to get a mental picture of what the self-titled debut album by her band the Outs is like. While there are definitely a few hints of the girl-group-meets-riot-grrrl approach you’d expect based on her lineage, Rose has more of a soft spot for dream-pop experimentation than anything else—indeed, the tried-and-true primary sources for any up-and-coming noise-pop outfit are all over Frankie Rose and the Outs, from the warm fuzziness of Galaxie 500 and Black Tambourine to the twee idiosyncracies of Television Personalities to the Aislers Set’s infectious melancholy. But next to her contemporaries and forerunners, Frankie Rose can’t quite find her own voice as a songwriter, often getting caught in between different moods and modes, without a knockout pop punch to go to or a Midas touch for molding feedback into melodies to rely on.