September 6, 2007

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Black Francis, Bluefinger
Cooking Vinyl, Sept. 11
As mastermind of Boston legends the Pixies, Frank Black commanded the ultimate anti-Fleetwood Mac, a jumbled train wreck of notes, pretty/unpretty voices and bar-band guitars that sucked in every unwary soul who got too close. For Black, Bluefinger is a series of scores settled with himself, all bespeaking refinement, though not in a “wow did he get old” sense. Purists — people as old as Black, that is, and the multitudes of hangers-on who to this day can’t begin to articulate the Pixies’ je ne sais quoi — aren’t going to be happy about this, but fact is this album reveals his Pixies oeuvre as a set of rough demos, experiments with volatile compounds that proved the guy was on to something and he’d sew it up eventually. We knew Black had a fixation on stupid-simple rock-guitar whamming, but Bluefinger’s first three songs take that ball, run with it and do a chicken dance in the end zone right in front of the commissioner’s box. Those tunes alone constitute a clinic for all the wannabes trying to be edgy these days, but the beauty part is when he gives himself a do-over of the boys-choir chorus that Surfer Rosa’s “Where Is My Mind” mismanaged, this on the new album’s “Angels Come to Comfort,” whose out-of-nowhere fadeout is one of the most stirring things you’ll hear all year. A+Eric W. Saeger.