Right from its opening moments, it’s evident that Frankie Rose’s second album Interstellar is all about transformation. As a whip-crack snare breaks the reverie of soft-focus synths and sighing vocals and sends the title track spinning into a kaleidoscopic pop nosedive, Rose may as well be slipping off the wedding ring of her past and hurling it into the ocean. After stints in the Dum Dum Girls, Vivian Girls and Crystal Stilts, and a debut solo album (as Frankie Rose & The Outs), Interstellar – recorded with pop producer Le Chev in lieu of a backing band – sees Ms. Rose kissing goodbye to scuzzed-up Spector homages in favour of clean guitars, crystalline keyboards and a New Wave/ post-punk vibe that owes more to the likes of the Cure and the Banshees than she ever borrowed in her past life from the girl groups and garage bands of the Sixties. If Frankie was once the sweet kid next door, shedding a tear for the “Leader Of The Pack”, this is that girl grown up with a poster of Morrissey on her wall, smoking cigarettes and sending the boys crazy, and these new songs capture the new, spiky attitude perfectly: moody rockers “Know Me“, “Had We Had It” and “Moon In My Mind” are propelled by huge, pounding drums and the best New Order bass-lines Peter Hook never recorded, whilst “Daylight Sky” and “Night Swim” jangle and pout like the Bangles or the Go-Gos at their finest. But underneath the tough exterior a tender heart still flutters, and some of Interstellar‘s most show-stopping moments are its gentlest: the throbbing “Pair Of Wings”, which manages to be bombastic despite lacking any kind of real beat, the hypnotic treated pianos of “Apples For The Sun” or the Arthur Russell-inspired “The Fall”, where a graceful but insistent cello saws through Rose’s breathy vocals like a finger drawing on misted-up glass.
Interstellar is out now in the U.S. on Slumberland, and will be released in the U.K. March 19 on Memphis Industries