Electric Fetus

750078012923
Show Me Your Tears
Artist: Frank Black & The Catholics
Format: CD
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If it weren't for his seminal work with the Pixies, Frank Black might go down in history as a profoundly weird dude who put together a backing band comprised of crack session musicians and some of his own post-punk heroes and churned out a series of idiosyncratic-if ultimately irrelevant-solo records with good hooks and cringe-worthy cover art. Frank Black just hasn't been the same since he spilled the last few precious drops of Pixies dust on his first two 4AD releases: his eponymous solo debut and subsequent Teenager of the Year may have silenced the ghost of Black Francis for good. Still, most of Frank Black's Pixies-era blunt-nosed obstinacy has eroded to the point where he has slowly but surely been digging himself out of the massive hole he dug with 1996's sublimely awful The Cult of Ray.

Show Me Your Tears, his sixth record with the Catholics, is the first of Black's latter day efforts that doesn't demand to be graded on a curve. "Horrible Day," a rumination on what to wear when Death knocks on the door, mines Black's nihilistic humor vein once again. It's comfortably jangly, as are his more overtly country/ honky tonk exercises ("Goodbye Lorraine" and "Manitoba"), a stylistic shift he refined on last year's Devil's Workshop. And if Black proves guilty of giving a little too much credence to his textbook indulgences on the meandering "When Will Happiness Find Me Again?" and "Everything Is New," he gets partial credit for non-compulsive, as-is presentation. Extra points for bringing in Brian Wilson collaborator Van Dyke Parks to play piano and accordion on a few tracks, and solid marks for the rest.
        
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