Frankie Rose – Cage Tropical
Indie rock nomad Frankie Rose's latest album is a sparkling pop odyssey
Frankie Rose’s track record goes before her. As an alumnus of Dum Dum Girls, Vivian Girls and Crystal Stilts, she’s served quite the indie rock apprenticeship. That experience is something that she’s toyed with the actual exploitation of; she’s released music under her own name before, most notably with 2013’s solo album Herein Wild, and started bands in which she was more than a supporting character, too – Beverly put out the well-received Careers in 2013.
Now, though, she’s back out on her own, with a set of turbulent pop songs that twist and turn to satisfy both Rose’s appetite for a psychedelic sonic palette and the other-worldly preoccupations of the lyrics. Cage Tropical taps into the eighties sounds that have always felt like Rose’s calling card, but also has her dipping her proverbial toe into uncharted territory. Art Bell is a spaced-out case in point, as is the minimalist Dancing Down the Hall, which constructs a genuinely gorgeous sonic landscape from the most rudimentary of overlapping synths.
Rose’s rollout of this record was a playful one, with fans encouraged to call a telephone number that popped up in the video for the infuriatingly catchy lead single Trouble and leave messages that involved the caller’s “paranormal and extraterrestrial encounter stories”. There’s an opacity to Rose’s lyricism, though, that makes it tricky to know how much those ideas actually weighed upon Cage Tropical itself. Everything’s shrouded in enough metaphor to ensure that we never really see much of Rose the person, and instead spend the album’s forty-ish minutes with Rose the carefully-crafted, self-styled pop star. On this evidence, though, that’s just fine – she’s never sounded this thoughtful or measured.
Listen to: Dancing Down The Hall, Trouble