Where Is My Solo Act Mind?
Black Francis has always handled heavy pop tunes with a fine balance of ’90s Gen X aggression and noise, but with a little less chaos than his Pixies conditioning. With the advent of Nonstoperotik, Francis delivers a softer approach to his otherwise angsty portrayal of alternative rock.
Tracks like “O My Tidy Sum” and “Rabbits” feature a slightly tired Francis, a la The Band, singing over twinkly vibraphone and strings, providing a slight orchestration. “Rabbits” is played off by just the tiniest bit of low brass that brings a not-too-sweet conclusion to the piece.
Francis’ cover of The Flying Burrito Brothers’ “Wheels” almost sounds like if Dinosaur Jr. decided to play country. Despite this, Francis’ background in roots music provides an understanding of how to not turn a Southern lullaby into a corny, hokey slice of irony. Sincerity is key in this track and the album; melodies aren’t forced.
“Corrina” might as well provide insight as to what’s in store for the next Pixies release with Francis sing-shouting over thickly distorted guitars. The sparsely played Rhodes piano gives a slight taste of that ’90s dissonance hiding under the gain. The title track comes off like a cinematic version of “Wonderful Tonight,” down to the twangy guitar solo; finally, a slowdance song for aging indie kids.
Francis has indeed come to terms with his own musicianship within and beyond The Pixies. Nonstoperotik blends bits of pop sensibility with a more-than-matured alt rocker at heart.