The general rule of thumb is that expansive, ambitious albums should grow on you with each successive listen. We could all name a litany of LPs that were so challenging and different at first that we rejected them until the aspirations of the artist finally clicked with us, and then it was like falling in love. Very rarely do you experience the opposite of that phenomenon-- you really enjoy an album the first time you hear it and then it becomes an almost unendurable bore. Frankie Rose (of Vivian Girls, Dum Dum Girls, and Crystal Stilts fame) just dropped her newest LP, Interstellar, and while it made for an engaging and seemingly ambitious first listen, subsequent plays were not very kind to an album that showed all of its cards far too soon.
Giving up the girl-rock and breezy pop that defined her career in other bands (as well as her last album with Frankie Rose and the Outs), Frankie Rose has re-branded herself as a New Wave artist with some sonic ambitions comparable to late 80s The Cure. From the opening lines of the album's title track, it's clear that Frankie Rose wants to send the listener on a relaxing and shimmering journey through spacial soundscapes. There are stand-out singles on the CD, like "Gospel/Grace" and "Night Swim," but this album is meant to be played in its entirety for any listen. Using her own voice to create multi-track harmonies and pairing her celestial sounding sonic ambitions with genuinely engaging percussion, Frankie Rose makes a competent and well-crafted album even if later plays (after the first one or two) prove to be the aural equivalent of taking a sleeping pill.
You can't knock Frankie's meticulous attention to detail on the album as she layers on all of these different textures of the CD with skill and occasional inspiration. It can be a gorgeous album as well, and I can see myself laying on my back in a field putting on this CD and staring up at the stars. However, artists like Sigur Ros and Panda Bear have proven that you can make slow-building and intentionally spaced-out music that holds up after multiple listens. If you're in the mood for music so chill that it will possibly slow your heartbeat down, then Interstellar may be for you. For everyone else that wants a little more to chew on, you may be disappointed.