Frankie Rose - Interstellar (Memphis Industries)

This is the second album from Miss Frankie Rose, former drummer to the stars (both Vivian and Dum Dum Girls, as well as Crystal Stilts), who struck out magnificently with The Outs in 2010. If you’re expecting more of the same this time around (surf guitars, reverb, shoegaze), then for the most part you’d be wrong. Minus band, Frankie has retained a certain dreamy, enigmatic quality but the musical arrangements are radically different, with synths predominant.

So there are the lovely synth-pop stylings of Gospel/Grace and Daylight sky (both overlaid with chiming C86 guitars, one of a few nods back to the previous album). That latter song also has more than a hint of ambient soundscapes about it, with a bubbling, gurgling bass running through – an atmosphere repeated on the beautiful Had we had it, with its ecstatic, twinkling chorus – which, along with the epic vocal treatments, would tend to remind you a little of the euphoric melancholy of Apparat. Apples for the sun is a cosmic chill-out, built around an insinuating keyboard loop, like a slowed-down techno workout, complete with false fade.

The songwriting (and singing) has a wistful, stargazing quality, in keeping with the album title, as on Pair of wings – “perched above the city on a pair of power lines”. Elsewhere there is moondust, weightlessness, walking on clouds and two suns noticed passing by. The overall effect is of an 80’s English indie band marooned on a space station and communicating home via hushed, nostalgic murmurings of love, set among celestial choirs; occasionally, the ambient haze clears just enough to make out the remembered pitter-patter backbeats and surf guitar twang. Beguiling is the only word for it.

*This is the first single from the album, and more or less the only track available online for now. Although lovely, it doesn't exactly convey the full drift of the album. But I'll post up more links as soon as they come on stream...the album's out in March.


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