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Black Francis 

Bluefinger (Cooking Vinyl)

Wednesday, Oct 10 2007

Frank Black's solo material has failed to find the mega-audience the Pixies enjoyed, but his last two countrified albums at least demonstrated the songwriter's faculty to move beyond all the screaming and post-punk noise. While that versatility is great and all, fans of his harder, weirder stuff have long been salivating for the return of his Black Francis alter ego, and they get it in Bluefinger.

Recorded under the moniker of his Pixies persona, Bluefinger was inspired by the late Dutch artist/musician Herman Brood, who threw himself off the roof of the Amsterdam Hilton in 2001. Knowing this bit of trivia does little to make sense of Black's lyrics, though, which are just as deliciously surreal and huh?!-inspiring as those on the Pixies' Surfer Rosa (except "Angels Come to Comfort You," a narrative of Brood's suicide the album could've done without).

Bluefinger opens with the beefy riffs of "Captain Pasty," but "Threshold Apprehension" is more captivating, especially when Black starts screaming "thresholdthresholdthresholdthresholdthresholdthreshold!" with the fervor of an autistic 7-year-old. Like the best Pixies records, "Bluefinger" has texture: There's cinematic cabaret ("Test Pilot Blues"); twisted doo-wop ("She Took All the Money"); melodic, Doolittle-ish compositions ("Tight Black Rubber," "Your Mouth Into Mine," "Discotheque 36"); and Black's signature driving, Primal Scream-y numbers ("You Can't Break a Heart and Have It").

With that phantom new Pixies record stuck in perennial Will-They-Or-Won't-They-ville, Bluefinger is a fine Black Francis distraction in the interim.

About The Author

Maya Kroth


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