Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Honeycomb - Frank Black (So Long, Ruins!)


Frank Black
Back Porch Records.

SCQ Rating: 41%

A previous job I held introduced me to the redundant magic of internet radio, which in turn opened my ears to Frank Black’s solo work. From the moment I heard ‘I Burn Today’, Honeycomb was on my to-buy list. The song was brisk and sunny like the spring weather I always pine for, with unhinged bits of piano and bells backing Black’s coarse vocals. So compelling that song was (and still is, as of tonight), I refused to hear more until the disc was in my possession. That was a mistake.

So much of this album feels chafed between Black’s bored ruminating and an obscure label’s gamble on success. ‘Selkie Bride’ and the title track best represent Black’s tedious lack of variation, while ‘Song of the Shrimp’, Elvis cover or not, plain sucks. I have to hand it to his choice of label - if in name only – as Honeycomb could only pass unnoticed on a noisy back-porch of super-polite guests. The mood is right, the tempo is sympathetic for lonely drunks, but the songwriting and performance sink Honeycomb before it’s out of the gate.

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