Show Me Your Tears, Frank Black and the Catholics ninety-twelth album this millennium, opens with a track titled “Nadine." The first time I heard it, it scared the fuck out of me. All I could think of was this gigantic Frank Black dressed all in black with lights shining off of his scruffy bald head doing his goddamn best not to scream into the microphone. He doesn’t belt it out like he used to, and I’m not faulting him for that, but his only ever composition that instilled the same kind of terror in me was “Tame” and that song’s a screamer. It’s representative of his power as a vocalist and song writer that he doesn’t need to belt out a bone-chilling wail to produce the same results. It’s actually much more powerful listening to him contain the freak outs.
That same containment in “Nadine” is found on “Massif Centrale,” which is about as Pixies-esque as you can get. The rolling bass line and tweaky lyrics, “I thought I’d take a chance and forget about the states / I thought I’d gravitate to the hills of Central France,” find Black telling a story of a disillusioned musician pondering his escape. Choosing France as a destination rather than Mars, is indicative of where Black’s mind is these days, and I gotta say that it produces something much more visceral with it’s basis on reality and not the fantastic.
“Horrible Day” is a song so good that it validates everything FB has been doing these past few years. It’s an absurd take on a familiar bar band trope. He’s had a bad day. He’s gonna go home and because he’s Frank Black--he’s gonna watch a movie. He almost forgets about his problems when he declares, “It’s a beautiful day,” and then he remembers that it isn’t and remarks, “No, it’s a horrible day,” and he doesn’t give a fuck.
Traveling the country, playing dives has been the most positive move in Frank Black’s solo career. His first few efforts on SpinART with the Catholics were patchy and muddy, but now nearly every single one of their new songs sounds like its been road-tested for a decade or two. This is what rock music should be doing. It’s not clean and shiny Rickenbackers and it’s not dicking around in the studio trying to get the perfect sound out of your A.I. robot. It’s just rock music, sure, but it should hit you in the guts.
2. Everything Is New
3. My Favorite Kiss
4. Jaina Blues
5. New House Of The Pope
6. Horrible Day
7. Massif Centrale
8. When Will Happiness Find Me Again?
9. Goodbye Lorraine
10. This Old Heartache
11. The Snake