Before releasing her latest record Interstellar, Frankie Rose spent quite some time playing with Crystal Stilts, Vivian Girls, and Dum Dum Girls. These bands and Rose all have one thing in common, an affinity with music from a period long-gone. The tracks in Interstellar are a throwback to the days of ’80s pop. However they are performed in a veil of reverb that add a feeling of modern-day dreampop to them.
The aforementioned combination is what makes the record truly work. From the beginning you see how well these two sounds go together. The album opener, “Interstellar”, has the huge hook you’d expect from a 80s pop record. However what truly makes it shine as a track (and not just as a novelty) is the pummeling drums and neo-psychedelic guitars that compose the tune.
Following the opener is “Know Me”, one of several catchy and instantly memorable tracks. The 80s influences are highly apparent in this song. While it’s the instrumentation that immediately shines, further inspection shows that Rose’s vocals are actually quite the force in the album. Her voice truly resonates with the vocalists of the 80s, successfully taking you back to that decade. The “No they don’t know me/I hear what they say/It doesn’t own me/I’d rather be dead” hook works itself into your brain thanks to Rose’s delivery.
Not all of Interstellar is composed of catchy hooks and dreamy guitars. The record does have its share of “deeper” moments – in particular the synth ballad “Pair of Wings”. The solemn synth chords work perfectly when put into the context of the lyrics recited by Rose (“All that I want is/A pair of wings to fly/Into the blue of wide open skies/Show me your scars/I’ll show you mine”). It’s the beauty of the meeting between music and lyrics that make the track a clear standout.
The remaining tunes on Interstellar continue to merge the two sounds the record goes for. Tracks like “Night Swim” are clearly made to evoke a ’80s inspired sing-a-long. While “Moon in my Mind” is a dreamier affair, with its layered vocals and psychedelic guitars, it culminates at the album’s closer, “The Fall”. The strings give the track a grandiose feeling, while the synths and Rose’s voice remind you of the talent that made the record.
Interstellar is one of those odd discovery records. Upon first listen you’ll be immediately hooked on the hooks (no pun intended). However the more you listen the more you realize how much thought was put into this album. The lyrics, albeit simple, suit the music so perfectly that they truly blend into one entity (something that can’t truly be said about too many albums). The instrumentation never tries to get too intricate or out there, it knows its role is to make the album a complete experience. Interstellar represents the genius that it takes to write a good simple pop song, something that goes unrecognized by critics much too often.