The Pixies, deities of Boston’s alternative biosphere, have gotten a divorce, and fans have visitation rights with the first solo album by the band’s deranged and cherubic doyen, Black Francis (a.k.a. Charles Thompson). His new alias is Frank Black, but more than the name has changed. The Pixies concocted a frenzy of guitar turbulence, with bassist Kim Deal’s calm, whispered tones cushioning the metal spikes hurled from Francis’ throat. Losing Deal is like removing a base Stimpy from the acidic Ren.
Fortunately, the lyrics on Frank Black remain as wry and obscure as vintage Pixies (half the fun of albums like Surfer Rosa was trying to decipher the wacked-out words); in ”Ramona,” Black pleads that if the Ramones ever break up they should ”pull another Menudo.” And there is the occasional Pixies guitar squall (add bonus points for the presence of Donnie and Marie’s former drummer, Nick Vincent). But the production is bloated with horns and synthesizers, and some of the stuff sounds suspiciously like art rock (as if we needed another Bowie or Pet Shop Boys). For the sake of the children, we can only hope Black gets this fling out of his system. B-