Release Date: Sep 24, 2013
Record label: Fat Possum
Genre(s): Pop/Rock, Alternative/Indie Rock, Alternative Pop/Rock, Indie Pop, New Wave/Post-Punk Revival, Noise Pop
On her third album, Herein Wild, Frankie Rose performs a magical synthesis of her first two albums to reveal her most satisfying and accomplished record yet. Her debut, Frankie Rose and the Outs, is a thrilling noise-pop car crash of an album, and Interstellar is a slickly melodic synth pop album. Both were brimming with exquisite pop songs, with Rose's bright and tender vocals leading the way.
Frankie Rose’s debut Interstellar was an absolute masterpiece. It reminded people that being a confessional songwriter means a lot of people consider you their best friend, even if no real secrets were told on that effort. In my opinion, it’s the best album of the last three or four years. She asked a lot of questions on that album, and answers were surrounded by slabs of awkward beauty.
Frankie Rose is a stalwart of Brooklyn’s jangle-pop scene, having notched up stints in three of its most successful acts – Vivian Girls, Dum Dum Girls and Crystal Stilts. Last year Rose issued her second solo album, Interstellar, a tuneful and accessible pop album influenced equally by The Cure and The Carpenters. Herein Wild marks a further refinement of Rose’s sound.
As an alumni of Vivian Girls, Crystal Stilts and Dum Dum Girls, an uninitiated sort may assume a gritty bent on Frankie Rose’s solo outings. However, those notions are soon left by the wayside. On Herein Wild, Rose again (as on last year’s Interstellar) forgoes the vitriol and rage of her forebears, instead vying for a dreamier territory – the Brooklyn singer-songwriter ventures into a world inhabited by woozy tendrils, leviathan beasts of hazy pop grandeur and an alluring pastel-shaded smog.
Frankie Rose has spent the last few years looking for her voice — after her Girls in the Garage-influenced debut with the Outs, she struck synth-pop gold with last year's shimmering, if somewhat uneven, Interstellar. Herein Wild picks up where that record left off, expanding Rose's sonic palette. "Sorrow" is the most immediate link between the two albums.
It felt like only a matter of time before Frankie Rose evolved from a bright light in New York indie rock to a legitimate star and unsurprisingly, it happened on last year’s Interstellar, the first album attributed to her and her alone. The surprising part was how she shifted from the more character-driven garage-rock she helped create with Dum Dum Girls, Vivian Girls, and the Outs to romanticized, Reagan-era dream-pop, a genre that all but requires putting form before flair (see also: DIIV, Wild Nothing, Lotus Plaza). The main lyric in the chorus of Interstellar highlight “Know Me” actually went “don’t know me,” which felt apt for a record with a sharp and subtly diverse array of songs that revealed the range of Rose’s talent but not much about herself.
The opening guitars on Frankie Rose's third solo album trick you into thinking the Brooklynite might be looping back to her garagey indie rock days (she was an original member of Crystal Stilts and Dum Dum Girls). Not so. Except for the dissonant pep of Heaven, Rose's careful vocals float among bittersweet synths for 37 minutes of dreamy Cure- and Bangles-evoking pop.
Herein Wild sounds so far away from itself. I don’t just mean in terms of production, although Frankie Rose has certainly kept up her flair for the spacious on her third album. I mean that it aligns itself with disparate themes and desires without working to create interesting tension between them. The album picks up on the orchestral threads that lay scattered inside her last album’s tapestry, but doesn’t let go of Rose’s punk roots.
I don’t know why Frankie Rose’s last album sounds so familiar to me, because I thought I’d only listened to it once. Maybe I heard Interstellar on Saturday mornings last fall, while curled up in a booth on the porch of the little restaurant where I worked back in Virginia, drinking coffee from a mug as big as a cereal bowl and wishing away a hangover. Maybe I heard Interstellar on the way to Austin, 16 or 17 hours into the 20-hour drive, when early spring sunshine tricked us into thinking it was warm enough to roll down the windows.
Bands get exhausted just as often as people get exhausted from listening to them — you just hear about it less. So when Kings of Leon imploded, or took a hiatus, or merely went quiet after a tumultuous patch a couple of years back, it qualified as news, even though it really should have been considered a favor. The band had gotten big, and it needed something else, bumpy road there be damned.
Frankie Rose’s music is representative of a sub-genre that’s arisen in recent years. Characterized by an embrace of the girl group sensibility of the Sixties married to dense, distorted guitar sounds derived from the Jesus and Mary Chain and My Bloody Valentine. And the girl groups Rose evokes are not the character driven hard girls the Shangri-Las portrayed, but the pastel seraphim of the Paris Sisters.