Review: Black Francis – NonStopErotik

When Frank Black started recording again as Black Francis it was an exciting concept.  The Pixies had reunited for a few tours, and though rumours of a possible new album just continue to be rumours, work by  Black Francis seemed to be one step closer to that possibility.  NonStopErotik, however, feels nothing like the Pixies (not that it should).  If feels more like a singles collection.

Given how prolific Black is it is easy to match songs to the various styles of his past works.  Six Legged Man fits easily with Black Francis’ early solo stuff, like Cult of Ray.  Dead Man’s Curve would have fit perfectly on Dog in the Sand by Frank Black and the Catholics.  Wild Son is a well polished C-side to Pixies B-sides like Weird at My School or Dancing the Manta Ray.

There is an excess of falsetto going on in songs like Oh My Tidy Sum and Rabbits.  Don’t get me wrong, I’m not a falsetto hater.  Mac McCaughan (Superchunk, Portastatic) is one of my favourite artists.  But when Black sings entire songs in falsetto it just doesn’t feel authentic, but rather like he said “let’s do this one slow and high pitched, ’cause we haven’t done that yet on this album”.  Perhaps that feeling is informed by how fast and furiously Black tends to pump out the albums.

In contrast, Corrina‘s rockin’ pace drives Black’s voice up to a high pitch in a natural way that brings an enjoyable energy and life to the song.

Title track Nonstoperotik and When I Go Down on You are baffling tracks with overtly? sexual lyrics.  Lines like “I don’t need to have someone new when I go down on you” and “I want to be inside / that’s my intention / inside of you / all the way” stand out in all the wrong ways in songs that musically are more piano-driven love ballads than anything else.  I get that there are more to the lyrics than what is on the surface, but not being in on the winking I just can’t warm up to the songs.  I think these could have been tracks 13 and 14 on Ween’s 12 Golden Country Greats.

Regardless of which post-Pixies moniker Black releases under, each new album is likely to have a couple of gems and a lot of non-standouts.  This is the curse of Black’s song writing style: there is a lot of quantity and within that there is some very high quality, but often the impact is diluted by the mediocrity of the rest of the songs.  Unfortunately NonStopErotik feels like a collection of throw-aways from other albums.  There are some decent tunes here, but nothing to add to the “best of” collection.


About OneGoodMinute
Blogging about the fun and interesting things in life. Nerd stuff - movies, music, comedy, podcasts Social Media - Documenting my way through social media, blogging and online promotion. Learn from my experiences, mistakes and successes.

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