At first, it might be tempting to write-off Frank Black’s debut album as ” softer Pixies plus keyboards” and I can sort of see that. But I think that such a view obscures what’s really going on, and that is the rather huge growth of Black’s songwriting.
But first, I got to say that I love Teenager of the Year, and a huge part of me listens to this record and just thinks “This just isn’t as good as Teenager of the Year.” That’s not really fair, in part because this record came first.
The thing is, Black tries things with his songs here that he never did in the Pixies; he has suites-as-songs and honest-to-goodness ballads (well, almost) and other songs you never would have imagined someone known specifically for his use of stop-start dynamics.
The other thing is the arrangements are so much more complex than with the Pixies; there are horns and there are keyboards and stand-up bass and weird percussion and more acoustic guitars than ever. Yes, the keyboards date the record rather poorly, but fortunately they are the only aspect of those arrangements to have aged poorly.
I still don’t know if I can be fair to this record simply because of how I feel about its sequel, but it’s better than I initially thought for sure: it’s a quality set of songs by one of the more unique songwriters of his generation, and it shows a way greater range than he’d ever displayed before.
All songs written by Frank Black except track 3, written by Brian Wilson and Terry Sachen.
- “Los Angeles” – 4:08
- “I Heard Ramona Sing” – 3:40
- “Hang On to Your Ego” – 3:24
- “Fu Manchu” – 3:02
- “Places Named After Numbers” – 2:52
- “Czar” – 2:42
- “Old Black Dawning” – 2:02
- “Ten Percenter” – 3:28
- “Brackish Boy” – 1:35
- “Two Spaces” – 2:25
- “Tossed” (Instrumental Version) – 4:09
- “Parry the Wind High, Low” – 4:32
- “Adda Lee” – 2:00
- “Every Time I Go Around Here” – 3:31
- “Don’t Ya Rile ‘Em” – 2:52
- Frank Black – vocals, guitar
- Eric Drew Feldman – bass, keyboards, synthetics
- Nick Vincent – drums, percussion
- Joey Santiago – additional guitar
- Dave Sardy – additional guitar
- Jeff Moris Tepper – additional guitar
- Bob Giusti – additional drums
- John Linnell – saxophone
- Kurt Hoffman – saxophone