Frankie Rose and the Outs / Frankie Rose

Frankie Rose and the Outs

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Frankie Rose and the Outs' self-titled debut album could have been viewed as a textbook case of bandwagon jumping when it came out in late 2010. The fuzzy, heavily reverbed take on classic girl group pop played and sung by women was quite popular and on the verge of being overdone. Rose was no Frankie-come-lately though; she played drums with an early lineup of the Vivian Girls (and wrote their best song, “Where Do You Run To”), and was in the live version of the Dum Dum Girls (as well as the Crystal Stilts, though she was the only girl in the band). Her credentials being in order is only part of the battle though; she’d need to make a decent album to escape bandwagon-jumping charges. Let the record show that she has exceeded expectations and all charges have been dropped. Together with her band, Rose has crafted something that serves as both a culmination of the girl noise pop sound and a hint of where it could go next. Tracks like “Candy” and “Girlfriend Island” utilize walls of noise, pounding floor toms, and huge AM radio hooks; “Little Brown Haired Girls" has vocal harmonies the Paris Sisters could appreciate; and “Save Me” has all the heartbroken drama of a Spector production. More intriguing are the songs that use girl groups buried under a blanket of hiss as a starting point and go off in interesting directions -- for example, the drifting sections of “Memo,” where the guitars linger over the notes while a bed of noise hovers in the distance, and the near a cappella cover of Arthur Russell's “You Can Make Me Feel Bad” that shows off the group’s beautiful vocal harmonies to full effect. It’s also nice how there seems to be as much Cramps-style rockabilly in the band’s DNA as there is Shangri-Las. Check the shivering guitar work of “Must Be Nice” or the rollicking, car-crash dramatic sound of “Don’t Tred” for confirmation. The droning organs and languid tempos of “Hollow Life” and “Lullubye for Roads & Miles” show a nice range and give the album some depth. Rose probably could have just made a cookie-cutter noise pop record and people would have liked it just fine; that she and the group display lots of sonic imagination, a powerfully strong ear for melody, and a willingness to mess with expectations makes the record something special. Frankie Rose and the Outs have made a record that put her old band the Vivian Girls to shame, and instead of proving to be bandwagon jumpers, they instead made a record other girl pop bands can emulate and someday hope to equal.

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