Black Francis

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 11 April, 2010, 12:00am
UPDATED : Sunday, 11 April, 2010, 12:00am

Black Francis
(Cooking Vinyl)

A writer as prolific as Black Francis (aka Frank Black) doesn't need much prompting, but this album of songs about sex apparently was driven by a gift of a black guitar.

Francis says every time he played it he liked what he heard, so he used it to lay down tracks in the early hours after gigs in the US and London. Nonstoperotik was recorded in a short time, at one point in a studio Francis claimed was haunted. Perhaps it's the speed at which the recordings took place or the spirits, but this is an uneven album. Even when it gets good, there's often a subtlety that takes several listens to appreciate the discreet depths.

When I Go Down on You turns an explicit promise into a love song and the arrangement of strings and piano gives a gentleness belied by the lusty lyrics. Wild Son has hazy sexy guitar work and an almost monotone Francis. Dead Man's Curve offers his famous strained shouting vocals used to such great effect in The Pixies atop a rock ballad.