Monday, 23 September 2013

Frankie Rose - Herein Wild


Before infiltrating Frankie Rose's third album, everything was looking up. Pre-release singles "Sorrow" and "Street of Dreams" gave listeners an insight in to what Herein Wild would sound like. A more refined album with deeper connotations of ambience and atmosphere, rather than the stark electronic percussion and new wave sounds of her sophomore Interstellar. Rose went about attempting to create something innovative, something pop related for the electronic world. Interstellar was that album - but it puts Rose in a predicament. To move forward and expand on her sound, Rose needed something more, Herein Wild is an attempt, but it's not the full package. 

Interstellar was packed full of these indie pop/synth pop gems. Rose would delicately sing, with mass reverb and delay to give her sound a dream pop aesthetic, even with the electronic percussion and guitar riffs suited to M83 / Neon Indian. It was like a 2012 Cocteau Twins, with a novelty sound. Breaking out of the mould can be difficult for artists, though not for artists as experienced as Rose. She's a journeymen musician and has worked with New York bands Crystal Stilts, Dum Dum Girls, and Vivian Girls. Rose knows her way around a record, and with Interstellar, she completely went all out creative wise. Questions were raised even during Interstellar's release about how Rose can improve and continue recording this way. Herein Wild starts well, taking the pre-release singles as that starter. "Sorrow" features some of Rose's best guitar riffs to date. The back half of "Sorrow" has these delicate strings, like synthesizer drones, but incredibly calming. It's a proper single, great pop structure and an organic instrumental to go with the lyrics: "Don't ask me why there is so much trouble, constantly sifting through rubble. Don't ask me why, why we don't follow, why we must break, steal and borrow." Herein Wild isn't the light follow-up, Rose enters third album territory with all guns blazing. “You For Me" strangely powers through the opening track with some much needed distortion break from the reverberation. However it doesn’t last long and before you know it Rose is relishing the echo effects. "Into Blue" is familiar territory, breezy soft vocals and riffs galore. It just never takes off, apart from the three chord standard chorus which passes through time and becomes instantly forgettable when listening to Herein Wild in full.

Massive segments of Herein Wild are completely out of the ordinary for Rose. It's a passage that can be taken by surprise, or by a desired effect. "Cliffs As High" opens with a rather peculiar acappella section, then comes down in a charade of piano effects and string accompaniment. It sounds somewhat sweet, but for only two and a half minutes of a recording, it's completely bland and uninteresting. Same goes for "Minor Times". It sounds like your typical car manufacturer late at night advert music. The chorus is also very similar to "Into Blue", one of my biggest gripes... When a chorus starts and progresses in the same fashion throughout an album, very repetitive. 

It's not all wear and tear material though, many tracks on Herein Wild are keepers. "Heaven" is a change of scenery. There’s a thunderous rhythm guitar riff surrounding the vocal drones and bass riffs. And it's the bass that takes centre stage on Rose's best tracks with album number three. "The Depths" is made listenable due to its magnificent sounding bass riff. Take out this riff and you're left with an unfinished and incomplete track that wouldn’t make a B-sides compilation. This bass riff and the further rhythm guitar riff make "The Depths" one of the few memorable tracks on Herein Wild. "Question Reason" takes the listener back to the stark days of Interstellar, it was only a year ago remember. This back album thriller includes a challenging keyboard riff, typical Rose vocals and cordial sounding percussion. "Street Of Dreams" tops off the standout tracks. This pre-release single made its mark on my listening habits in August. It wasn't just the similarities to its Interstellar counterpart "Night Swim", but the ambience, atmosphere and synthesizer pattern towards its close. This is Rose's most sinister track to date, baring comparisons to the dark British ethereal 80s, The Cure, Siouxsie & The Banshees, Bauhaus. Strangely, the final synthesizer instrumental segment leads nowhere. The pre-release suggest a lead off, something the final track could with it as a build-up. It just comes to a close, without any real direction or purpose. It would work as an alone track, at the helm of the album perhaps; but not as the final segment of the penultimate track. This creates a backlash of unexpected instrumentation from the finale which is quite frankly a let-down. 

"Requiem" caps off Herein Wild with two minutes of acoustic guitar reverb and a trumpet. The recurring lyrics of: "I'm afraid hell and heaven are the same," stand out alongside the track title. Herein Wild's finale is a shortcoming. It was almost expected to be something of an ambient build-up, but the trumpets are okay too. Trumpets have a  long standing relation to death and endings, so using this instrument for the first time signals the closing time on Herein Wild. Rose recorded her third album in just over a month, that’s not long at all. The writing process and recording process has been cut short, though this isn't rushed in the slightest. The production is actually remarkable, very clear sounding guitars and outstanding reverb effects on Rose's layered vocals. Herein Wild jumps out of the gun too soon. It's one year ahead of schedule and the instrumentals show. Rose can bang out an album in a month with ease, but is this really the way musicians should be operating in 2013. Take your time, get down stronger tracks so "Cliffs As High" can be omitted. Herein Wild is a decent effort, but ultimately falls down with repetitive structures and soundscapes. The newcomer can pick up this album and love it, but for the Frankie Rose followers and new wave / dream pop fans, this doesn’t cut it in the big leagues.
~Eddie

7.0

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