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Frank Black and the Catholics

Frank Black and the Catholics

Spin Art

I am a mess of contradiction and indecision. On the one hand, I want to steer well clear of all of this Pixies legacy rehashing. Pixie this, Pixie that, Pixies blah. I didn't even want to say the word "Pixies." Pixies are horrid little creatures with strange tufts of fur all over their bodies, and bad teeth. But then I was driving home the other day, and (damn them to hell) the college radio outlet was playing "Is She Weird," and oh-my-god, I got the chills when I heard Black Francis' Bathory-meets-a-teething-infant scream. Well, he doesn't do that anymore, and it's lazy reviewing to dismiss an album based on Dave Kendall-narrated memories. So you start fresh. You start with the first song on the new album.

With "All My Ghosts," Mr. Black has reaffirmed his right to continue writing songs for two more years. Messy guitar intro, oh-oh-oh chorus, the word "gore" in the lyrics, it's a summer song. Wait, it's not summer anymore. So we'll call it an autumn song. It's a perfect "Charlie Brown makes a desperate run for the football with blood in his eyes and Lucy yanks it way at the last minute just like every other year, Charlie Brown falls on his head, his socks go flying god-knows-where, we catch our breath and track two starts" song. How was that? It wasn't going off on a tangent, because Charlie Brown has a bald head just like Frank Black. Ha Ha.

There are other highlights. "King and Queen of Siam" and "Steak'n'Sabre" spring most immediately to mind, and I enjoy pretending that "The Man Who Was Too Loud" is about W. Axl Rose. Still, the final impression I am left with is frustration, because I think he is capable of loads more than this, and fair enough if he's gone all mature and Neil Young on us. That's his ev-o-lution. Its just not the kind of altar I'd care to worship at the feet of right now. Spin Art, 580 Broadway, Suite 1105, New York, NY 10012

--Matthew Moyer

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