Release Date: March 10, 2023
Review by Jen Emmert
The soundscape of Frankie Rose evokes a dreamlike ambience that is familiar, and also stimulates unexpected emotions. There is a convergence of sound apparent in Rose’s music, which stems from intertwining rock, synth pop, punk, and alternative genres. These influences leave much to be desired, but also devoured from Frankie Rose’s body of work. Undoubtedly one of the most underrated new wave and indie rock musicians around, Rose deserves all the headlines and recognition, especially now. Six years may have passed since her previous album, Cage Tropical, in 2017, but even the keenest of listeners would never know that her latest release, Love As Projection, is as fresh as ever. In her new album, Rose finds new ways to stay true to her roots, which indubitably would have thrived during a previous era, but also are regaining precedence in today’s overridden pop industry.
Love As Projection starts with “Sixteen Ways,” an atmospheric, full-bodied adult’s lullaby that chimes and cherishes. The opening track illustrates a projection that’s mesmerizing in every way one could possibly yearn for. For those who have never listened to Rose before, there’s no denying the immediate allure—between her captivating voice and ability to layer her vocals that showcase her versatile range all while masterfully blending old school new wave with voluminous guitar. In “Sixteen Ways,” there’s a cryptic mysticism looming in the shadows of the sweeping synths that raises intrigue, rather than eyebrows. The sixteen ways are never actually defined, but they don’t even need to be. The fact of the matter is that Rose is in control, and her melodies are not only moving, but also make the listeners move. Consider the hook implanted.
On the more lighthearted “Anything,” there’s an omnipresent perceptiveness and reminiscence of realizing how mundane, day-to-day activities can still bring out behaviors that are wanton, yet un=able to let go of immediately. With an energy almost reminiscent of The Cure, Rose sings, “…and if you abandon all your hopes and dreams you’ll find // that it’s no use to pretend that you had tried…” There’s something extremely poignant, yet fulfilling about this sentiment that, even if what was aspired, proved fruitless. There is still a level of pride that cannot go unnoticed, like much of the pattern and flow of relationships we experience throughout our lives.
Meanwhile, “Had It Wrong” is a captivating pivot, where Rose finds herself at a crossroads and is compelled to declare her raw emotions to an individual, perhaps a former lover. “You let me down…before,” she projects—as innocently as a confession can truly be—feels familiar and within reach. The echoing of Rose repeating, “I don’t know, I don’t know, I don’t know why” is haunting in the most beautiful way possible, and while it’s obvious that this is targeted to whomever has hurt Rose, it’s the least confrontational confrontation one could possibly experience. This track is topped with shimmering keys and a clap-like beat that seems to cheer Rose on as she lays everything on the line.
“Saltwater Girl” feels like a plunge into deeper waters, an enlightened epitome—perhaps the equivalent to a fish out of water. “You’ll find me standing on my own,” Rose croons, her confidence rising as the metamorphic saltwater conveyed seeps in and washes up an unapologetic sentiment that, while a genuine connection exists, so does the ability to be independent. By the end of the song, the heightened keys crescendo, adding to the feeling of a swelling tide.
During the midway mark, there’s “Feel Light,” which feels like a collective, melodic breath and timeshare to recompose after being catapulted with such ethereal breeze. Rose’s voice is the light, and it most certainly can be seen, heard, and felt. Then, there’s the bombastic bass-driven “Doa,” which, despite the initially grim-sounding title, brings warmth in with the sweetly casual jab, “Won’t you love me? Oh, come on; oh, come on.” It’s taking the raw, inhibited maneuverings of love and what comes with it and then twists like taffy into a saccharine-sweetened, savored craving.
In “Sleeping Night And Day,” whatever pain is present, is masked by a mellifluous melody with a seemingly open invitation to escape and Rose’s support that “…there’s a way out.” It’s like both reliving euphoria and the sound of riding around on a carousel with the lights flashing and everything is so loud that all senses seem to melt away. Similarly, “Molotov In Stereo” is an encouragement to tune out the noise amongst the cacophony and offers reassurance and solace to listeners. There really is no better to be drowned by sound, though, if it’s coming from Rose.
As if the album couldn’t sound more sonically stellar, then the disco-esque “Come Back” surfaces and titillates to the core. This is the sonic trailblazer, the quintessential Rose, the culmination of music wizardry; it’s a plea to the lowest degree, a ballad of amaranthine proportions, a tune that you want blasting—projecting, for that matter—during any and all occasions.
The conclusive “Song For A Horse” mimics trotting and is yet another invitation—it’s time to be vulnerable and at-ease again: “Let your defenses down,” Rose encourages and adds, “This could be wrong; I have been wrong before.” The upfront honesty makes the proposition more tender and tempting, reinforcing the fact that taking the first step is the only way to know if something truly (and inevitably) wonderful will occur.
Ultimately, Frankie Rose is at her finest in Love As Projection. Whether you’re a first-time listener or longtime supporter who must listen to at least one track a day to feel like the day can move forward, there’s no denying the impact she leaves. This is the record you need to hear all day, every day. It may be a 2023 release, but it will leave a legacy and live on for lifetimes to come.