A brief career spanning Vivian Girls to Dum Dum Girls (not much of a span, true), drummer Frankie Rose should seem destined for a solo venture in doo-wop of some sort. Vivian Girls are essentially a doo-wop band disguised as a punk band. Dum Dum Girls are a doo-wop band, not quite disguised. And on first glance, this is the identity of Frankie Rose, a woman of dyed black hair and high treble and harmonies, a thirty-something who ought to be helping carry a girl group while made up as a punk by way of Brooklyn.
But this is not so, and funnily enough, it is the hollow girl group-style pop songs that will earn her an audience - like "Candy," a by-the-books pop song that shows the limitations of her voice and swipes its catchy guitar riff from the Yeah Yeah Yeahs' "Rich." The songs, in other words, that best draw from her other former band, Crystal Stilts. No, there's not a lick of originality in this record. But it's got some gorgeous qualities about it, and it's built as though Frankie Rose constantly left each of her previous bands, shopping around for something just right, then found the time to create something bigger and better than all that she'd made with her previous mates.
Likely overlooked will be the rich and layered ballads, like beautiful album closer "Save Me," more in the style of Cocteau Twins than any of Phil Spector's clientele, big and grand and well-harmonized, not so much established on a wall of sound, but on voice. Or the simple "Lullubye for Roads and Miles," which may as well not have lyrics, as they're so inaudible as to prove that all one needs is a melody of voice over a simple bit of guitar. The same could be said for the track that follows it, "That's What People Told Me," representative of the album's blend of '60s style psych-folk, dream pop, and retro garage guitar rock. And originality aside, the aforementioned "Candy" and swinger of a tune "Must Be Nice" are, regardless of their influences, good pop songs. Just plain good pop songs.
Certainly, Frankie Rose has been picky about which elements to take with her as she departed each of her previous efforts, and her solo effort is undoubtedly a combination of such—surf-punk song "Don't Tred" has Vivian Girls written all over it, even—but she may very well have succeeded in making a debut that's bigger and better than what she'd supported from the back of the stage. [Slumberland]
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