Vancouver-based dream pop/psych pop outfit FRANKIIE — founding members Francesca Carbonneau (vocals, guitar) and Nashlyn Lloyd (vocals, synth, guitar), along with Trevor Stöddärt (drums) and Jody Glenham (bass) — can trace their origins back to 2013: The band’s first lineup, which featured Carbonneau and Lloyd with Samantha Lancaster and Zoe Fuhr, met and rehearsed for what was initially meant to be a one-off gig that December. But at tehe time, each of the band’s members felt such an instant and undeniable creative chemistry that they decided they needed to go at it full-time. Within a relatively short period of time, they wound up touring across much of North America, including opening for The Charlatans on the East Coast.
The Canadian band’s Jason Corbett-produced full-length debut, 2019’s Forget Your Head featured “Compare,” a lush and shimmering track with the sort of anthemic hooks that reminded me of 80s New Wave and JOVM mainstays Wax Idols.
Slated for a June 2, 2023 release through Paper Bag Records, the Vancouver-based outfit’s long awaited sophomore album, the Jason Corbett-produced Between Dreams reportedly weaves elements of reverb-soaked dream pop, vintage classic rock, bedroom psych and beachy shoegaze into a seamless soundscape meant to evoke a world in which dreams and reality are part of one continuum, where there are no borders, and magic abounds — seemingly everywhere.
Between Dreams explores our lived experiences in a world constantly shifting and twisting abruptly around us. “What is the dream and what’s reality? What’s normal anymore and does it really matter because you’re just experiencing it all anyways,” the band’s Nashlyn Lloyd says in press notes. “I think that’s all we’re trying to do: just be in this experience and embrace it fully.”
Francesca Carbonneau explains that the boundary-free feeling emerged when the band started writing the album’s material during pandemic enforced lockdown and thereafter. “It was this weird ‘between dreams’ state because nothing was normal, or at least not how it was and we just had to carry on like everyone else,” Carbonneau says. Naturally, that influenced an overall attitude in which control and power were relinquished to some degree; whatever happened creatively would be explored. “These songs were following a sense of intuition, and not really trying to have them be anything but what instinctively came out. There was no attempt to stick to a certain genre, or take ourselves too seriously.”
Most of Between Dreams‘ material was written at the band’s dark, moldy jam space in East Vancouver, with extra pieces written at home or on writing retreats to rural British Columbia. Some of the album’s songs were written with a rotating cast of collaborators, including previous bassist Vickie Sieczka, new bassist Jody Glenham and drummer Trevor Stöddärt, while others were written with the help of a drum machine they nicknamed “Chad.” (“Chad’s so great, he always shows up on time,” Lloyd quips.)
Eight of the album’s tracks were recorded with producer Jason Corbett at Jacknife Sound and two with Connor Head at Victoria, BC-based Catalogue Studio. As the band explains, the recording sessions were full of fresh energy and vision: Glenham and Stöddärt lent new angles to the album’s material, while the world’s standstill allowed the band the time to build out the album’s sonic world. (During part of the recording sessions, the band’s Lloyd had to figure out how to sing while nine months pregnant.)
Jeremy Wallace Maclean, best known for his experience composing for film and TV, mixed the album, giving the material a broad, cinematic scope. For Lloyd and Carbonneau, the record marks an attainment of a sound they’ve been chasing for years. Carbonneau quotes Miles Davis: “Man, sometimes it takes a long time to sound like yourself…and this is the closest we’ve gotten so far,” she adds with a laugh.
Earlier this year, I wrote about album opening track “Visions.” Rooted in old-school attention to craft, “Visions” sees the Vancouver-based outfit pairing a laid-back Laurel Canyon/Fleetwood Mac-like groove with a shimmering melody and Carbonneau and Lloyd’s soaring harmonies. The song — to me, at least — evokes a half-remembered, waking dream; the sort in which you have a lingering and unshakable sense of déja vu that you can’t put your finger on.
“‘When dreams and memories entangle with our present moment, we can begin to question our entire reality. ‘Visions’ is about that feeling, about sensing something beyond what’s happening right in front of you…as if right below the surface, anything you’ve ever lost is there; waiting for you to reach out your hand and grab it back,” FRANKIIE’s Carbonneau explains. “Like déja vu, which is something I experience frequently, a single moment can feel surreal, strange and yet strikingly familiar all at once.“
“Cruel,” Between Dreams‘ third and latest single is a jangling and reverb-soaked, 70s AM rock-inspired anthem that sonically meshes Fleetwood Mac with elements of dream pop and jangle pop — and thematically nods at Carly Simon‘s “You’re So Vain.” Out of the album’s previously released singles “Cruel” features one of the most rousingly anthemic choruses the band has written to date. “In an age of celebrated self-absorption, we were inspired to write this song about a fictitious character that we sing back and forth with. It is essentially an amalgamation of all the narcissists we’ve ever met and in turn we want nothing to do with,” the band says.
The accompanying live footage, captures the band playing the song with a joyful abandon.