Frankie Rose‘s fourth solo album Cage Tropical, released last month, is a burst of bittersweet dream pop inspired by a case of the blues. The former member of Vivian Girls, Dum Dum Girls, and other influential indie bands wrote it during an unhappy period in her life, where she found herself moving to Los Angeles from her longtime home in Brooklyn, convinced she was done making music forever. The lifelong musician eventually shook herself out of that funk – by writing some really good songs. After sketching them out in a makeshift home studio and working with co-producer Jorge Elbrecht on some demos, she completed the album a little at a time, whenever she could make it into a studio.
The singer and songwriter is Mexican on one side of her family, with roots in East L.A. She grew up in Orange County, so landing back out west was a homecoming. Though it wasn’t a conscious choice, the City of Angels made an unmistakeable imprint on Cage Tropical. The spare new wave-style bass lines and drawn-out drones balance the album’s poppy tendencies and create a feeling of melancholy and isolation. It’s sun-baked sadness, as only Los Angeles can inspire – however, Cage Tropical is ultimately a hopeful album, a story of redemption.
The video for “Love in Rockets,” premiering today on Remezcla, underscores the album’s connection to the city. Created by Sean O’Keefe, it’s a montage of home videos of Frankie’s family, a document of generations of life in East L.A. She describes the song as being about her short time living there and her family connection to it. In a message to Remezcla, she writes, “My family lived on 6th Street in LA for multiple generations. My mother and her three sisters grew up in my Wela’s basement in what is known as East Los Angeles. My grandmother made her living as a seamstress and the girls always ran around wearing fancy little dresses that were maybe a little nicer than the class they belonged to.”
Considering the wave of gentrification taking over LA, Frankie describes the footage as “special.” “Not only because it’s all the women in my family, but because you just don’t see moving images of brown people from that era very often. It’s a glimpse [at] what being a Latina attending Garfield High in 1969 may have looked like. My family does not live in East L.A. anymore and gentrification is happening at an ever-faster rate. But I’m so happy to have been able to cut this footage to my music and in some way keep my family connection to the neighborhood alive forever.”
Frankie Rose’s Cage Tropical is out now on Slumberland Records and Grey Market.