On 2012's Interstellar Frankie Rose took the lessons learned with her debut and transferred those skills into a brave new world. In its place is the confident swagger of a singer and auteur fully aware of how to build the simplest of pop moves into aching, full-blown melodramas, how to grab hold of an emotion and ride its darker waves. "I always have a big picture in mind," Frankie reflects. "I knew I wanted a huge sounding record. Big highs, big lows, and clean. There is no fuzz on this record. I knew I wanted to make a streamlined, spacious record with big choruses that sometimes referenced 80s pop." But that referencing never swamps the melodies: this record isn't a retro trip. If anything, it liberates sounds familiar from that decade and gives them new context, breathes life into clay golems of sound that too often become basic, pre-set triggers.
On Interstellar, Rose goes epic, goes widescreen. "Had We Had It" spins the sweetest sugar from chords that ascend into the firmament, a heavenly, palatial blur. "Gospel / Grace" rumbles with passion, a New Order-esque one-finger guitar figure leading the listener into the choral depths mapped by the chorus. "Apples For The Sun" is breathtaking, with Frankie singing out across a lone piano, before a glorious web of voice and organ pirouettes into the air, an arbor of pleasure connecting the verse with its instrumental shadow, a coda that slowly slips from your view, before making the briefest, most tantalizing of returns. A lot of Interstellar seems to be about disappearing into, or finding and reveling in, this kind of imaginary zone, something Rose confirms: "The whole record is about dreaming of some ‘other' place."
And as you drift into the heartbreaking "The Fall," which floats out to sea on a lunar-aquatic cello riff that's pure Arthur Russell, you're ready to conquer those other places, too, to let Frankie Rose guide you out of the album's spell and land you back in the sensual world, slightly altered, adrift and in awe.