Douglas Martin’s Dirty Shoes: Frankie Rose Goes to Space

Douglas Martin has friends in lo-fi places. If indie rock were graded on a curve, Frankie Rose would be the 4.0 student getting irritated because everyone else was benefiting from her hard work. Her...
By    February 22, 2012

Douglas Martin has friends in lo-fi places.

If indie rock were graded on a curve, Frankie Rose would be the 4.0 student getting irritated because everyone else was benefiting from her hard work. Her credentials are listed in full every time she puts out any new music: She’s a founding member of Vivian Girls and is responsible for their most popular song. (If you’ve ever wondered why you’ve never heard “Where Do You Run To” played live, her departure from the band has virtually stricken the song completely from the band’s history.) She’s played drums for Crystal Stilts and Dum Dum Girls at the cusp of the former’s popularity and long before the latter crossed over.

She released the sublime and underrated Frankie Rose and the Outs in 2010, where she subtly reinvented girl-group garage– the genre she singlehandedly brought back into vogue– by filtering it through the prism of gauzy dream-pop. Essentially, Frankie Rose is slightly less of a household name than her contemporaries simply because she doesn’t sit on an idea long enough for it to become popular.

A clear about-face is afoot on Interstellar, as Rose shies away from the clatter and clangor of garage-rock to try her hand at yet another new sound. It’s tempting to call it new-wave, as it’s clearly grounded there. But the songs here take the retro-futurism of new-wave and add some actual futurism to the mix: All of the sounds on the album are heightened by glittery effects and a sheen usually reserved for synth-pop records that aggressively mine John Hughes movie treatments for inspiration. The guitars that surface on the record don’t carry the same synthesized tones as new-wave six-strings, either; played in Rose’s recognizable style, they carry the deepness of Rickenbackers and Fender Jaguars, basically the kind of guitars you’d use on a garage record.

In the midst of these slurry whammy bar treatments and effects-pedal-treated riffs, Rose goes for explosive moments on sparse occasions. Though wildly creative and assuredly in a class all by herself, her style is more about subtle shifts and the gorgeous textures they’re encased in than violent, noisy guitars and contentious songwriting. There’s a healthy amount of artful obscurity in Rose’s songwriting, punctuated by cresting waves of sound and creative vocal harmonies. And while there’s not a great deal of Big Indie Headlines that come with quietly perfecting your craft– especially as indie settles into being the “highbrow” wing of regular-old popular music– but craft is what is remembered when the headlines stop rolling. When that happens for a lot of Frankie Rose’s peers, chances are we’ll still be talking about her music.

Previous Episodes:

Douglas Martin’s Dirty Shoes: Share the Joy and Vivian Girls’ Lateral Shift
Douglas Martin’s Dirty Shoes: The Unfuckwithable Resume of Frankie Rose

Douglas Martin’s Dirty Shoes: Candy & Sour Endings

Download:
MP3: Frankie Rose-“Night Swim”

Frankie Rose – Gospel/Grace from Slumberland Records on Vimeo.

We rely on your support to keep POW alive. Please take a second to donate on Patreon!