The ever-changing identity of the Pixies' front man takes a new turn...
Simon Fernand 2007-08-31
So - another week, another album by the artist sometimes known as Frank Black. This time it’s a concept album based around the life (and death) of Dutch artist/musician Herman Brood. Interestingly, Black has chosen to return to the moniker he used when he was the Pixies frontman. Does this mean fans should expect a return to the classic loud/quiet/loud formula and that scream? Or a continuation of his recent Nashville phase, which produced the wonderful Honeycomb and the ambitious (if a little bloated) Fast Man Raider Man? Or something else altogether?
Well, it’s a bit of all three. The first thing that will hit you is that Bluefinger sounds as visceral as anything he’s ever recorded. Opener “Captain Pasty” is full of spiky guitars, manic drumming, quirky time signatures and yelping. In short - it rocks. Track 2, “Threshold Apprehension” is one of the highlights of the album. More screaming, a guitar part reminiscent of Pixies song ‘U-Mass’ - and the first taste of Violet Clark’s backing vocals (which sound remarkably like Kim Deal’s). This is one track that will keep Pixies fans happy.
Don’t be fooled into thinking that Bluefinger is all shouty vocals and edgy guitars, though. There is some respite, especially “She Took All the Money” with it’s poppy “Shama lama ding dang” refrain, and standout track “Angels Come to Comfort You”, which tells the tale of Brood’s suicide over a beautiful melody (and a wonderful dreamy outro). Ironically, the weakest track on the album is arguably “You Can’t Break a Heart and Have It” which was written by Brood himself. Ultimately Bluefinger represents all the best elements of Frank Black/Black Francis/Charles Thompson’s career. It’s quirky, melodic, beautiful and yet challenging. All at the same time. Herman Brood would be proud.