Frankie Rose, Interstellar

Matthew Fritch

By Matthew Fritch

on 02.21.12 in Reviews
Successfully moving her music out of the garage

Frankie Rose spent the early part of her musical career as a member of a ragtag coven of Brooklyn retro-garage bands, including Vivian Girls, Crystal Stilts and Dum Dum Girls. Interstellar, her second solo album since moving on from those groups, shows exactly how to move your music out of the garage: Clean out all the grit and grease, put on some makeup, imagine yourself as a dragon’s teardrop on the moonscape of a Yes album cover, and blast off into a colder space. An appreciation for early-’80s new wave blankets Interstellar with a certain iciness – drum machines, oscillating keyboards, brittle-sounding guitars – but it’s not frozen solid. Rose’s voice unlocks these songs like a key; rather than apply the steely, remote effects given to so many electronic-pop vocalists, producer Le Chev (whose very name makes this album seem even more tilted toward the ’80s) keeps Rose’s voice at a tender, close distance. Though some fairy-dusted moments occur (such as the feather-light title track or the strange wood-sprite chanting on “The Fall”), this isn’t a Cocteau Twins record. Rose has pop songs to sing, from winning A-side “Know Me,” with its brisk Smiths rhythms, to the I-am-a-bird-now ballad “Wings To Fly.” There are big, warm choruses here, and an almost childlike sense of joy and dreaming, that would seem to clash with Interstellar‘s cold-pressed instrumentation . But mismatched styles never seem to bother Frankie Rose – her music contains galaxies.