Coinciding with the release of the Pixies' B-sides comp, here's a chance to catch up with their ex-frontman...
It’s unfortunate that Frank Black And The Catholics’ fourth release falls so close to
that of his former band the Pixies’ B-sides compilation. Next to the twisted urgency of Black’s heyday, his current shortcomings are even more stark.
Black, however, knows that
all his post-Pixies activities will
be judged in the harsh light of nostalgic disappointment and,
to his credit, he doesn’t even try
to recapture what he’s lost. He simply does what he wants to
do. So here we find him feeling a little bit country, and a little bit rock’n’roll.
Opener ‘Blast Off’ sounds like a terrific statement of intent – until it descends into a seven-minute ‘jam’ of the kind only aging musos can turn out. A shame, as Black’s stripped-down solo performances in London earlier this year were surprisingly wonderful, exhibiting taut humour and startlingly imaginative lyrics.
The best songs are those which are more measured – the starry piano melancholy of ‘Stupid Me’ evokes the Everly Brothers, and ‘I’ll Be Blue’ is both weary and touching. There is some priceless nonsense (“I’m on a Beckett rant/From all that chemical”), but most are stifled by a distinct lack of creative passion.
Nothing new, then – but, sadly, nothing old either.