As an alumni of Vivian Girls, Crystal Stilts and Dum Dum Girls, an uninitiated sort may assume a gritty bent on Frankie Rose’s solo outings. However, those notions are soon left by the wayside. On Herein Wild, Rose again (as on last year’s Interstellar) forgoes the vitriol and rage of her forebears, instead vying for a dreamier territory – the Brooklyn singer-songwriter ventures into a world inhabited by woozy tendrils, leviathan beasts of hazy pop grandeur and an alluring pastel-shaded smog. Guitars thrash and vox growl, and she occasionally shows her roots, but you’ll never assume that this is an LP born of fury.
‘Street Of Dreams’ is an obvious highlight. A cover of revered punk act The Damned, Adorned with Cure-esque guitars and rolling motorik, you half-expect Robert Smith‘s signature croon to flutter from amidst the smoky axe foliage. The original itself lends itself pretty well to Rose’s take, but that doesn’t diminish its emotional heft or imposing zest. Everything’s very angular and ’80s, and although it’s an indulgent bout of dreampop, all the elements seem almost disjointed, leaving not relaxation, but suspense in their wake, which is a nifty tone to wield in the genre. She’s made it her own.
The choice offerings on Herein Wild aren’t limited to a mere one or two ditties. ‘Requiem’ is a neo-folk stunner with clarion brass fanfare, the gravelly boom of cello and soft acoustica melodies; ‘Into Blue’ channels ’80s pop for a cut that borrows focal bass from ‘Veronica Sawyer’ by Summer Camp and delicate, flighty vocals from shoegaze outfits like Asobi Seksu; ‘Cliffs As High’ distorts that pop sound worn so proudly, becoming an impish, childlike hymn with Final Fantasy/Nobuo Uematsu orchestrations.
There’s been criticisms of familiarity and lack of evolution on the part of Rose’s timbre. Yes, she draws from the same well for Herein Wild as she did on Interstellar, and yes, that means that her ’80s-draped synths/guitars/new-wave rhythm set-up is here once again. However, Rose injects different intonations and influences and ideas into the melee. In some respects, it could be seen as a sequel or a ‘Part II’ – perhaps even a companion album or sister record? – but that shouldn’t be a negative. There were lots of ragged, frayed edges on Interstellar, which was great as it allowed a nice bridge between her prior work and the new electronic world, and showed us a particular weapon in her arsenal. On Herein Wild, she brandishes a more fragile approach, enhancing the subtler moments on Interstellar and also lunging towards the unknown with dabblery in folk, live strings and lullabies. To use a horrendous cliché, the two albums are different sides of the same coin.
Frankie Rose revels in pop on Herein Wild. She’s summoned an anthology of tracks that are all (in some way) pop songs; the hooks available are lush and verdant, her vocals incite humming and the energy of numbers like ‘Sorrow’ could be positioned nicely towards a dancefloor. Her sonic advancement doesn’t smack you in the chops are much as it did on Interstellar, but there’s notable alterations and plenty of reasons to love it regardless. Rose reels back the thorns for her third LP, revealing a glorious, emotional dreampop side.