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Black Francis
NonStopErotik John Calvert , March 26th, 2010 10:39

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Having 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.

However, in true Pixies fashion the songs are pretty girls with bad breath; they contrast squeamish subject matter with cute melodies. The lyrical content comes from the quintessential Creepy Frank persona that earned him so much taboo-breaking subversive power and outsider menace. It might have arrived swaddled in the most cheeringly altruistic pop music that underground-America ever gave the world, but there was a Fuck You in there somewhere, even if it was derived from merely being the weirdest corn-bred sociopath since Jerry Lee Lewis.

Crucially though, on NSE the psychologically piercing content and mutant Americana are imbued with a fairytale-like quality. ‘Rabbits’ epitomises the beatific side to the Alt-behemoth - part Catholics-era Frank and partly the style of the guy who wrote ‘Here Comes Your Man’ and ‘Bird Man Of Olympus’ - who seems peaceful, dreamy and lacking the compulsion to position surreally transgressive imagery as an artistic spring-board to palsied anarchy. The languid ‘Rabbits’ is cadaverously ominous yes, but much like much of NSE it’s bereft of that delicious insidious spirit. Once upon a time an angular velocity would desecrate the mid-tempo lethargy here, the dynamics would be electro-convulsive and the textures cracked and lined, all in the name of fashioning a nightmarish farce. For example 'When I Go Down On You’ has to be the only timeless, majestically romantic, piano-led power-balled about cunnilingus in music history, and the subtext of oedipal desire on the title track is carried in on Frank’s very own ‘Wonderful Tonight’. Lovingly he tells her he wants to be "inside / all the way inside" - the return to the womb. Well, you can’t teach an old dog new tricks, and is it skin crawling? Yes. Good song-writing? Definitely. Punk Rock? No.

Charles Thompson's nineteenth solo offering should attract a raft of new acolytes. But hopefully from there they’ll back-trace themselves into the ecstatic embrace of the diabolically sublime - Bossanova, Doolittle and curiouser and curiouser until the Vagina Dentata that is Surfer Rosa beckons, which the original Black Francis made carnate as easily as exhaling; a song-writing genius of the kind that guitar music only sees about once a decade. Now, will somebody, for God’s sake, call Albini.

Chris
Mar 28, 2010 2:18am

Chances of Frank working with Albini again are slim to none. Also, to be pedantic, it's Bird Dream of the Olympus Mons... not Bird Man.

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Mar 30, 2010 4:40pm

intrigued to know more about what the album sounds like... review is utter shite, however.

too clever is dumb

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John Doran
Mar 30, 2010 5:00pm

In reply to :

It tells you what it sounds like you dumb fucking cunt.

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Mar 30, 2010 9:18pm

In reply to John Doran:

dumb is also dumb

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realmeanmotorscutor
Mar 31, 2010 1:19pm

Wow, I refuse to finish this review. What the fuck, pal?

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Mar 31, 2010 3:02pm

In reply to realmeanmotorscutor:

yep... see above

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John Doran
Mar 31, 2010 3:24pm

In reply to :

We're not that keen on thick tongued trolls round here. Feel free to fuck off and not come back.

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Mar 31, 2010 3:42pm

In reply to John Doran:

"thick-tongued troll" = reet rich coming from mr. "dumb fucking cunt"

why do _you_ care if we didn't like the review?

and who is "we"?

you?
your chums?

if you speak for quietus... oh dear

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John Doran
Mar 31, 2010 3:56pm

In reply to :

Look. I know it's probably hard for you to understand the concept of us having a minimum entry level of intelligence when posting on here. It's got nothing to do with swearing etc. and everything to do with discouraging idle trolls and LOL damaged cunts.

So you know, either shape up or fuck off. Or just hang around being pointless clicking on my site. I don't really care.

Just so we're clear: the review describes the music. Only a retard would have missed that. But then you/the person who made the comment knew that and was just lazily looking for a bit of a barney.

And I'm - quite reasonably - telling the cunt to fucking do one.

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Mar 31, 2010 4:21pm

In reply to John Doran:

ah... right then.

the black francis review struck me as kludgy, wordy and clever-clever. i posted, in all innocence, something to that effect.

in you come with "it tells you what it sounds like you dumb fucking cunt" which doesn't lend to much of a response other than the one you earned.

if you wrote the review... sorry, mate. i wasn't looking for a row, especially over a review of a fucking frank black album.

as editor (and writer) you get to point out foibles and follies, puncture egos, issue pronouncements, and do whatever you please. your name is on the masthead. it's your candy store.

on the other hand, if you are really so thin-skinned: jesus, man... you're a critic. you get to build and tear down at whim. my anonymous nothing really gets to you that much? how?

better yet, why?

quietus is good. people read what you write. you are (possibly) working at something you love to do. "fuck right off" is your response to the merest wisp of opinion from someone you do not know, who means f.a. to you, who has been stupid enough (apparently) to patronise your advertisers.

if you are leaping to the defence of mr. calvert, aces to you: a good mate is hard to find. if you are just leaping... it makes you look like a tossclump.

so yesmate... i'll fuck right off and not sully quietus, etc..

pointers on how to shape up or fuck off, duly appreciated. i will look back in for that.

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John Doran
Mar 31, 2010 4:28pm

In reply to :

"in all innocence"

Yep. Right.

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Mar 31, 2010 10:49pm

I agree with anonymous. The review is difficult to follow in terms of what it is trying to communicate and reads as if it was designed to be a literary experiment in itself. For all the forced Pixies references I don't really know what the reviewer thinks of the album or how it relates to the Pixies' releases...it's all over the place. It definitely is not clear about what the album sounds like.

Also, if this is really your site John Doran you should either shut up or just delete comments that offend you. You sound like a high school facebook bully. If you're the critic as well then you're a total dbag. Critics are bottom feeders and it is completely hypocritical to rip on someone who doesn't like your review.

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John Doran
Mar 31, 2010 11:01pm

In reply to :

Difficult to follow in the same way you find the plot of your average episode of Friends difficult to follow?

Here are some hints for you to get you started: no, I'm not the reviewer. The clue is in the fact he has a different name to me.

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Damien
Apr 1, 2010 10:53am

I've enjoyed recently discovering the Quietus and have read some intelligent and well put together reviews on here but John, if this is your site, I really think you need to read this piece over again and I'm sure you will see pretty clearly why people are saying it's hard to follow.

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Apr 1, 2010 11:48am

I'm french and I used to read and (almost) understand English. Is this a derivate form? I do not know so many words in this article.
from what it seems, this new record is not as good as a Pixies one, am I right? It's getting old...

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auslandlubber
Apr 3, 2010 10:21am

In reply to John Doran:

Shame on you flamers. Everyone should be entitled to an opinion within the bounds of decency. Do you have to resort to such wretched nastiness at the drop of a hat?

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from_depot
Apr 10, 2010 6:48pm

comparing frank black/francis to pixies is nonsensical
this review = shit

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n
May 30, 2010 7:12am

In reply to John Doran:

"‘Rabbits’ epitomises the beatific side to the Alt-behemoth - part Catholics-era Frank and partly the style of the guy who wrote ‘Here Comes Your Man’ and ‘Bird Man Of Olympus’ - who seems peaceful, dreamy and lacking the compulsion to position surreally transgressive imagery as an artistic spring-board to palsied anarchy."

is that one thought? i'm not sure. maybe i'm retarded.

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Mar 12, 2014 6:23pm

In reply to John Doran:

Hahaha John doran you prat

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