23 May 2013

23rd May - Frank Black's Teenager of the Year

Artist – Album: Frank Black – Teenager of the Year
Released: 23rd May 1994
Sounds Like: The (prom) king returns

Frank Black’s output since parting with the Pixies in 1993 has been nothing if not prolific – 22 albums in those 20 years, that’s quite the hit rate. In comparison, fellow ex-Pixie Kim Deal’s band The Breeders have released three albums and two EPs in the same period. That’s just shy of one full length Breeders album for every seven (SEVEN!) Frank Black albums. There’s been the good – 2005’s Honeycomb was imbued with pleasing alt-country vibes – the bad – I’m gonna plump for The Cult of Ray here, but there’s definitely more than one candidate – and the ugly – take your pick from pretty much any of the album covers. But only one album could potentially stand up next to his dazzling and influential work with the Pixies as an equal. Oh, and look, I get to write about it today!

Due to its rambling length and more conventional tone than he’s more readily associated (it’s much closer to Trompe Le Monde than Surfer Rosa stylistically) the album remains somewhat underappreciated. But throughout its twenty two tracks Black Francis displays his lyrical ability (try on the romantic acrostic of Speedy Marie’ for size – it spells out Jean Marie Walsh!), his knack of rendering throwaway comments über-cool (such as the cracking “That’s just how some things don’t materialize” from ‘The Vanishing Spies’), and his amazing talent for marrying alternative music to poppy melodies (never more evident than on the singalong ‘Headache’).

Even if you are a big Pixies fan, there’s a good chance that Black’s questionable solo career has put you off exploring further. For the most part, that’s the right choice. Well done you. But, buried deep in amongst the Sh... ow Me Your Tears, is this gem. Dig it out, put it on and enjoy.

Albumaday... rating: 7/10

1.       Whatever Happened to Pong? – 1:34
2.       Thalassocracy – 1:33
3.       (I Want to Live on an) Abstract Plain – 2:17
4.       Calistan – 3:22
5.       The Vanishing Spies – 3:37
6.       Speedy Marie – 3:33
7.       Headache – 2:52
8.       Sir Rockaby – 2:54
9.       Freedom Rock – 4:16
10.   Two Reelers – 3:01
11.   Fiddle Riddle – 3:29
12.   Olé Mulholland – 4:41
13.   Fazer Eyes – 3:36
14.   I Could Stay Here Forever – 3:36
15.   The Hostess with the Mostest – 1:56
16.   Superabound – 3:10
17.   Big Red – 2:41
18.   Space Is Gonna Do Me Good – 2:22
19.   White Noise Maker – 2:42
20.   Pure Denizen of the Citizens Band – 2:20
21.   Bad, Wicked World – 1:57
22.   Pie in the Sky – 2:13

Listen to ‘Speedy Marie’: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DKI7scna2jY

Also released on the 23rd May:
1969: The Who - Tommy

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