Wednesday, 22 February 2012

Frankie Rose - Interstellar

I'm officially making a prediction: 2012 will be the year of the half-hour albums. You know what I mean, records just a shade over 30 minutes in length, usually ones regarded as belonging to the tag of indie rock or indie pop or whatever else the hell you can deem "indie" in today's music World. Not that I have anything against that - there have been some great half-hourish records over the past two decades, but if the album is limited to roughly ten tracks, that works out roughly at about 3 to 3-and-a-half minutes each. Now that's either boldly genius...or despicably lazy.

Frankie Rose, the Brooklyn-based vocalist and instrumentalist, isn't shy on trying out new things, whether that be the role in a band, the band itself or here...having a go in executing a tightly-fitted record with more than enough glamour about it to keep the audience's eyes firmly away from its length time. 'Interstellar', Rose's first major solo outing, amongst other things - and much unlike her artistic naturism of the past - embodies this solitary ideal of a sailed layering of droned instruments and voice alike.

The self-titled introduction to this 30-plus sailing isn't shy (or rather, is shy enough) to let itself drift across a held-on drone of clouded organs and peaked keys. Rose's lyrics, which begin similarly gentle and withdrawn, soon burst into life as a flat-handed pounding of drums ups the tempo and ups the moral for the song to sail further through this valley of effect-laiden instrumentation and peaks of frosty synths that soon hop aboard.

'Know Me' by contrast feels down-to-Earth, yet still managing to maintain this sense of drifting to and fro on every level of its infrastructure. There's an uncanny optimistic pop approach to its deliverance, but it doesn't flicker too much into that of being distasteful - or rather, too sweet, it's sour. Tracks like 'Daylight Sky', which feel more shoegaze-orientated than integrated pop, expand upon the album's sound with high-flung synthesizers and more usage of effects on Rose's vocals.

'Had We Had It' brings more of an energetic and rustled integrity to the album, even if it comes across in some parts like an upbeat swirl of Bon Iver meets XX meets Arcade Fire. But to simply lay claim that this is reminiscent of such established sounds is rubbished quite easily by even more swoops of angelic synth lines and just-as-holy sails of keyboard work. It may not be a complete unification of delightful treats, but it's most certainly helped on its way. 'Apples For The Sun' drops and tails off with a swing of tubular-like chords, bringing with it a variation in the song's detailing, but again is dominated by the application of effects and alteration that becomes, at this point, maximized into a concept-like scale.

Indeed, the easy naturism of the sound's progression through these thin veils of droned effect-laiden instruments and vocals alike continues to appear not just as a recurring factor to the album, but as we reach the final third, becomes the dominant element; holding, meshing...even, guiding, this sound to its conclusion. 'Moon On my Mind' then is a welcoming break from this, instead relying on the bubbling hop of its lead bass line with Rose muttering away her almost-secretive vocals between strikes of elevatory booms of sound and the odd strum of guitar.

As stated, the album clocks in - upon inspection - at thirty two-and-a-half minutes, but as we see, is by no way a means to subtract from the album's execution of effect -laid application and play on collective arrangement of sound. For the majority, this album will indeed feel as if in the air; weightless and free. And though at points, it may feel almost too independent - and just as oddly, dependent on its own composite layout - becoming whimsically lost amid the flanger and the distortion alike, Rose's clever usage of her own delicate voice and choice of instruments makes this a worthwhile journey beyond and above. It's not cloud nine, but it may possibly be as close as one will get without the need to slip into obsession.


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