Frankie Rose – Interstellar

As mid-morning clusters of mawk ‘n’ rawk linger and wring loose any Ronettes influence found on previous records, Frankie Rose without the Outs is smitten by an indescribable brand of stealthy pop songs in quiet arousal. This glimpse at attempts of slightness deforms the rather disarming production, as though Robin Guthrie strangled Disney girls pissed from beyond the grave.

“Pair of Wings” is an intelligent buffer to the usual harmonized outrage of girl groups. Here, in splendid isolation, is the girl who dreams of wings to help her escape. In “Moon in my Mind,” a request seems to die in the midst of prayers accompanied by a motionless chorus and a Johnny Marr guitar noir that slides unnoticed, not unlike winter thawing to spring.

In fact, the entire record is a somber awakening, akin to a Greek myth as much as the Shangri-Las had that Wagnerian cry. But tears only plead while courage rides the storm out. Interstellar may revel in intimacy but as the title track can attest, the force and rhythm have been redirected to a side street where raving is muted but the enthusiastic wail remains.

The voice persists in the charm and chomp of pithy assurance with songs like “Know Me” and “Had We Had It,” a somewhat unfeigned, melancholic backstep to Frankie’s quasi-hit, “Candy.” Each lighthearted, wandering moment gives in to some regret, the kind of girl group lament that might follow after giving it up on the first date. The vertigo vocals in “Apples for the Sun” move forward, then abruptly pull back against an ebb-and-flow piano before getting tangled in a web of sensual misgivings.

I didn’t expect this any more than I expected to like it, but with audacious sparseness abutting hypnotic grandeur, it’s familiar territory for any of us who came in by way of Little Eva and stuck it out to fall in awe of Kendra Smith or Su Tissue.

As the pastoral escape ends as planned in “The Fall,” there may be second thoughts about the delight of despair. But the surefire response remains silence.

Frankie Rose