Frank Black - 93-03
Having previously only dipped into the solo material of Black Francis/Frank Black/Charles Michael Kittridge Thompson IV, I was excited at the opportunity to check out this collection of his output from the decade after the Pixies split. Most of the material on 93-03 comes from his pre-and the Catholics days - but the funny thing is, if you skip from schizophrenic opener Los Angeles to secret track Threshold Apprehension (taken from Black's forthcoming album Bluefinger) you're hard-pressed to identify proof of the progression an artist needs to make after 15 years honing their craft.
Don't get me wrong - I love the Pixies and I still love Frank Black. I just couldn't help feeling my heart sink a little when I realised that pretty much everything here is samey, ocasionally dull Pixies-lite. There are certainly some very good songs on 93-03 mind you, the spaced-out pop of Abstract Plain, doomy drone of Czar and country-tinged ballad I Don't Want To Hurt You all prove the magic was still there. And for the die-hard, the accompanying live disc (with more verve, aggression and, um, Roxy Music covers in its short runtime than the first CD put together) makes this compilation more of a draw.
For newcomers to Black's solo work, if more of the same is all you desire then by all means look this one up, but otherwise best steer clear. Religious iconography, bizarre sex and extraterrestrials. Surf rock guitar, quiet-loud-quiet, scream-to-a-sigh. Familiar chord progressions, familiar themes... everything just sounds so terribly familiar.