Review : Black Francis - Nonstoperotik
PopmattersIt’s difficult to keep up with erstwhile Pixies frontman Black Francis (born Charles Thompson, AKA Frank Black.) As the chief songwriter with the Pixies, he was at the forefront of the “alternative” wave of modern rock in the early ‘90s. Since the Pixies split, he’s released 19 recordings, credited to Black Francis, Frank Black, Frank Black and the Catholics, Grand Duchy and now again as Black Francis, including the recently released five-disc score to the 1920 silent film The Golem.
The newest Black Francis release, Nonstoperotik, finds him working once again with frequent collaborator Eric Drew Feldman behind the boards. Pixies loyalists should take heart listening to several of the tracks. After the reunion tour in 2004, rumors flourished of a possible new Pixies CD, yet it never materialized. Based on the the sound of several tracks, perhaps some of the song ideas from those sessions are finally seeing the light of day on a Black Francis recording. Yet what’s most immediately striking about these 11 songs is that they don’t veer from Black Francis’ penchant for lo-fi electric thrash (“Lake Of Sin” and “Corrina”) balanced by hushed acoustic pop (“O My Tidy Sum” and the romantically thrilling title track).
Despite the seedy album title and the lasciviously titled song “When I Go Down On You”, the theme here is not so much overt sexual gratification as ambiguous allusions to love. As usual, his lyrics are decidedly vague, yet reveal deeper intellectual meaning with further spins. On opener “Lake of Sin”, Thompson is dealing with religious themes, as he’s been known to do. Unable to resist the temptations of life, the protagonist succumbs to his desires, while using thinly veiled analogies for sins (the kiss of the ocean upon the shore, the devil outside one’s door). The rumbling drum solo is matched in intensity by hook-laden, fiery guitar riffs. The hushed backing vocals strike an eerie resemblance to Kim Deal, harking back to the Pixies....full text
Blogcriticsonstoperotik is pretty much an album about sex. Like its subject matter, it’s not an album you’ll quite get the first time you listen to it. You’ll need to try it at different times and in different places, with different company or perhaps alone, but soon you’ll find yourself unable to think of anything else as you hum along to its infectious tunes. In fact, it is a good measure of how great a Black Francis album is as everything he has ever released, from the Pixies through Frank Black and the Catholics to this, takes time to grow on the listener who may be unsure at first but is soon addicted. The difference between Nonstoperotik and Black Francis’s other solo material, however, is that this might just be his best album yet.
Born Charles Michael Kittridge Thompson IV, Black Francis was the former front man for the massively successful alternative rock band Pixies. When the band split in 1993, he embarked on a solo career as Frank Black and released roughly an album a year until 2007 when he began recording under the name Black Francis again. His albums have not always been well received but many people believe that his recent albums represent a return to form that coincides with the reformation of the Pixies. Nevertheless, he has an extremely strong fan base that has been waiting with bated breath for this latest release....full text
ThequietusHaving spent over a decade pottering on the periphery with an air of janitorial resignation, Frank Black has finally turned in the greatest number of memorable tunes ever amassed on a FB/BF release; NonStopErotik deserves to turn heads. However, when the cleft-lipped Svn Fingers was hacked up like a toxic fur-ball in 2008, replete with Pixie-checking tropes and a Deal-ian cut in the shape of ‘Garbage Heap’, our appetite for antic violence was duly excited . For the redoubtable Charlie T to emerge with nine archetypal Pixies melodies with instant replay value, without a manifesto of punk-experimental malintent in hand, is nothing short of a torturous tease.
It could be described as Pixies without the punk - sorry, Frank, but it’d be remiss not to compare and contrast. NonStopErotik bears little of the abstract parenthesis and structural inventiveness exhumed since Blue Fingers and primarily is founded on creamy synths, strings, bar-band piano and acoustic guitar. Yet the guitar-based threesome of ‘Corrina’, live favourite ‘Dead Man’s Curve’ and the unruly, Latino-flavoured ‘Six-Legged Man’ is vaguely insipid - three unremarkable examples of retrofied country-rock the likes of which the world has too much of already. This melodiously bullet-proof songcraft plain begs to be disfigured into inverted forms, Pixies-style. The result is a nostalgic longing for Kim’s portentous bass, which was the perfect primer for the lysergic caterwaul of Joey’s Les Paul, which would talk in tongues over Frank’s climactic exorcism scene. They’re so missed as animators to Franks’ songs. It's like scratching with the fingers of an amputated limb - the narcotic buzz of indie’s favourite dysfunctional family is within touching distance....full text
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