Since striking out on her own in 2009, former Vivian Girls/Crystal Stilts drummer Frankie Rose has sounded more self-assured and willing to take risks with each album. Herein Wild, which follows last year’s excellent Interstellar LP, is no exception. The album features more polished production, emphasizing the emergence of ornate instrumental details like cinematic orchestra shivers (“Cliffs As High”) and muted trumpets and strings (on the otherwise acoustic “Requiem”). As a singer, Rose is more confident in her ability to express varying depths of emotion; in particular, her slightly mysterious vocal delivery turns an electropop remake of the Damned’s “Street of Dreams” into something closer to a spy movie theme.
Despite these additions, Herein Wild feels like a logical progression from Rose’s past work. Like Interstellar, the record contains plenty of lush, keyboard-gilded indie-pop — highlighted by the lilting Sarah Records homages “Sorrow” and “Into Blue” and the burbling, Stereolab-like “Question Reason” — and textures influenced by the Cure’s bleakest early days (the frantic drums and deep-cutting bass line of “The Depths,” cyclone-like synth spirals on “Minor Times”). The difference is that Herein Wild‘s more deliberate approach adds gravitas to Rose’s longing and melancholy, and lightness to her more optimistic moments. Both ends of the spectrum are evident on the fuzzy opening salvo “You for Me.” The song alternates between quiet verses and stomping choruses, creating intensity that mirrors the self-awakening described in the lyrics. By the end of the song, Rose sounds positively giddy as she repeats the phrase “Can you see?” as if she can’t wait to shout her newfound confidence from the rooftops.