Former Dum Dum and Vivian Girl Frankie Rose knows her way around a catchy pop hook. Love As Projection demonstrates this in abundance across its ten tracks. Though prolific, Rose is not quite a household name, yet her dreamy synth pop influence is clearly heard on records by the likes of Dua Lipa, Charlie XCX and Maisie Peters. Whether those artists and their collaborators are aware, it’s likely they owe a debt to Rose’s creative output and commitment to combining a sharp verse with big choruses.
A blissful record, Love As Projection will have you dancing with a joyful lump in your throat. Songs such as lead single Anything balance delirium and disgust on the tumult of the western world’s decay in equal proportion. At the heart of the album is glowing, confident songwriting, resplendent in hooks and choruses but still touched with an optimism undimmed.
After spending nearly two decades establishing herself across New York and Los Angeles independent music circles, Rose has re-emerged after six years with a fresh form, aesthetic, and ethos. Love As Projection sees her taking evolving her trademark atmospheric vocals and harmonies with a noirish electro-pop sound. On opener Sixteen Ways, Rose sets the tone with brooding bass and drum supporting a gradually layered synth leading into an earworm chorus of harmonies. Elsewhere on DOA – a more angular call to arms – Rose appeals to the listener to “let me in” and wonders aloud if love and togetherness can still happen. It’s a common theme across the record: romantic hope tinged with cynicism in the face of modern life. A pretty standard pop staple for sure, but one which Rose elevates through her hypnotic ASMR-ish delivery (see Molotov in Stereo in particular).
Rose’s influences blend effortlessly, from 80s new-wave through 90s indie-disco and 00s NYC inspired retroism, she keeps the pulse pumping through euphoric beats. On standout track Come Back, a sure dancefloor filler, she frets about the object of her desire slipping from her grasp, yearning for the return of… well, we don’t know and that’s the point. It’s a relative motif across the record, designed to mean something to whatever the individual listener is feeling.
Love As Projection is an audio experience of waves and tides. It will sway your body in ecstasy and comfort you in comedown (Saltwater Girl, “in the morning sun, you’ll find me standing on my own”). And it’s really in the album title, Rose’s message that “love” is simply a projection based on whatever an individual wants it to be at any given time. For her part, she calls out for the listener to “let your defenses down…come with me to a place I dreamed we could be” (Song For A Horse) and be open to feeling anything at all. This record will surely help the process.