Debut LP from Frankie and the Outs offers new take on neo-girl group sound

There’s something to be said for going last. For years, Frankie Rose bided her time, letting the Vivian Girls, Dum Dum Girls and Best Coast drop their debut albums and establish punked-up neo-girl-group pop as a bona fide indie movement. Rose played drums for the former two groups, and now that she’s on guitar and vocals, leading her own band, she’s finally offering her unique take on the sound she helped popularize.

On their self-titled release (Slumberland), Frankie and the Outs prove more dynamic than any of their aforementioned peers. Of the 11 tracks, only a few — “Candy,” “Girlfriend Island,” and the killer Cramps-invoking “Don’t Tred” — are the kinds of bubblegum ragers one could imagine the Vivians or Dum Dums pulling off.

The rest of the album is more in line with “Hollow Life,” the placid swirl of harmonies, church organ, and barely-there guitar arpeggios that opens the album. Rose is big on atmosphere, and even on fastie “Little Brown Haired Girls,” the intricate arrangement and tissue-paper vocals show her to be more an innovator than a follower. To put it in vastly oversimplified, possibly sexist terms, she and the Outs are well-tutored Bangles to everyone else’s Go-Go’s.

The question then becomes whether this is a good thing. This album is far more accomplished than, say, either of the Vivian Girls’, but it’s not as much fun. And when we’re talking about ’60s pop — even in its skuzzy, second-coming-of-Jesus and Mary Chain modern-day form — isn’t fun what matters?

— Kenneth Partridge

Little Brown Haired Girls mp3

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