Frankie Rose and the Outs’ self-titled debut album is at one point an artful, nearly abstract collection of sketches and at another point a nearly arch exploration of the modern synthesis of girl group sounds and gossamer strands of various ‘gaze’ and art rock entities. The band leader of the all girl group, Frankie Rose, has been in various Brooklyn bands such as Vivian Girls, Crystal Stilts and the Dum Dum Girls and, while the album is closer to those faux-beach blanket bingo bands, there is enough of the aforementioned abstractions that Frankie Rose and the Outs operate less in songs and more in emotions and tones captured.
It feels easy to throw together touch points like Phil Spector, shoe-gaze, shit-gaze, beach bands, and the faux-surf sound that was popular last year, but there is a modulation and tonality added to the songs as pads dampen the sounds of aggressive-if-not-wholly-formed guitar lines snaking in and out of the foreground of the tracks as chimes, organs and keys accent back beats to create a near dizzying slumbering piece of near-occult Americana.
The words aren’t important as most songs have only snatches of lines stolen and presented for mood as they’re artfully blended beneath the expansive wide-screen production. However, there is the question of how much of this record can be presented live, where the artful techniques are more difficult to replicate.
Tucked between these explorations are some damn fine songs though. “Memo”, which begins with the barest of guitars before rhythm and chants of “bum ba da bum”; all of it fading back to the guitar before coming back for a strong noisy climax that carries a strong ‘rum-a-tum’ militant edge. It’s the barest of songs; there’s barely enough there to even call it a sketch. It’s like a pair of curved lines bending to intersect before they casually move apart. However, there is some depth to this, the strongest “song” on the album.
These plain pop songs may be less interesting, but they are no less strong. They’re upbeat and catchy despite the lyrics often being indeterminate, so it’s like listening to foreign language pop songs filtered through the past three years of Brooklyn music.
This is actually as good a descriptor as any for this first album. Frankie Rose has managed to capture a moment in time, frozen in amber whose sharp edges have been rounded off by time, distance, and liberally-applied, soft-focused, hazy nostalgia. This is a strange beast, but a beautiful one.