With their third album, Fitz and The Tantrums continue to push into the realm of purer pop. Our Samantha Lopez reviews.
Frankie Rose has been around the block. A career beginning in Brooklyn with the Vivian Girls, Crystal Stilts and the Dum Dum Girls before branching into three solo albums, she found herself in LA looking for a new spark. The results were not what Rose expected, and she returned to Brooklyn recharged, digging her heels further into what she already knew she needed to do. On her fourth solo album, Cage Tropical, she’s getting into her groove.
The opener, “Love in Rockets,” lifts off with sentimental melodies aflutter while she tells her story of catapulting into a new life from “a wheel of wasting my life,” and “a wheel of wasting my time.” Her voice is more clear and upfront than ever while still retaining her way of fanning through harmonies with herself. “Trouble” speaks most directly to her sense of stagnation while living in LA. She professes, “I’m being dramatic but if I stay static, edges start to fray, then decay,” as the track blends into whirring synths, conjuring provocations of UFOs and spaceships.
The music video for “Trouble” is where Rose gives us the strongest insight into her fascination with the paranormal, with four minutes of old school, trippy visuals and a phone number flashing at the bottom of the screen. Of course, I called. An old recording greets me, saying “This is your first contact, the nightly search for the truth continues… the lines are open all night.” It’s a bit more than a nod to Art Bell, the founder of the ‘80s radio show, Coast to Coast, that aired from 1-5AM featuring interviews about any and all paranormal experiences from callers and experts. His name also happens to be the title of the following track that showcases one of the more dazzling synth washes on the album.
Frankie’s sci-fi inspiration extends deeper than just a favorite radio show. The album’s 36 celestial minutes are ripe with takes from ‘80s horror movies, particularly ones scored by John Carpenter. While the tight progressions of S U R V I V E, the band behind the Stranger Things soundtrack, more closely resemble Carpenter’s work, the influence of synth-and-sci-fi-pairing-legends that Frankie cites is undeniably present. This is perhaps most apparent on the tip toeing progressions of “Dancing Down the Hall” and “Game to Play.” »