More than just a mere side project, the self-assured debut from Fine Place sounds like the album Frankie Rose has been threatening to make for nearly a decade now. It started with her solo breakthrough Interstellar, a stone-cold stunner that shook off the shackles of Rose’s previous bands (Crystal Stilts, Vivian Girls, Dum Dum Girls) with confidence and a clear vision: melancholic rock music that doesn’t rely on reverb and mood-altering melodies so much as bathe in them.
Now in the company of worthy creative foil Matthew Hord (Running, Pop. 1280, Brandy), Fine Place have given us a record that’s both gorgeous and gloomy, poppy, and poisonous. Written and recorded within the couple’s Brooklyn home during New York’s surreal lockdown, This New Heaven is what happens when the streets are empty.
This pervasive sense of dread makes its presence known right from the wobbly opening notes of “I Can’t Shake It,” a cut that initially comes off like one of the ambient-ish tracks from Nine Inch Nails’s Ghosts series. But then Rose steps in, singing into a red sea like a cursed siren, and it quickly becomes clear that we’re not in a warm dream pop realm—we’re in a cold waking nightmare.
The album’s next two numbers build upon that brittle foundation beautifully, diving straight into the unknown as Hord’s heady, minor-keyed hooks hang across the backdrop and Rose insists, “I am fine…Just don’t fall asleep.”
Comparisons to The Cure and Cocteau Twins—two of the duo’s admitted influences—are fair, but fail to capture the potential Fine Place exudes in just eight songs and 35 minutes. In many ways, they’re the perfect bridge in between Rose’s increasingly electronic and experimental solo work, and the record she’s already in the middle of wrapping for next year (Love As Projection, something she recently teased on a tour that featured a new power trio and a largely atmospheric live show).
It also reflects a universal feeling of terror and intrigue over a future that isn’t fixed, and a door that’s quickly closing. In fact, it may already be shut. Or as the pair reminds us in their ravishing Adult Fantasies cover as the curtain closes: “The Party Is Over.”