Review: NonStopErotik by Black Francis (2011)

Mr. Francis looking a bit hungover.
Mr. Francis looking a bit hungover.

NonStopErotik is my favourite album by Black Francis. This includes everything he did with the Pixies, as Frank Black or even Frank Black & The Catholics – and some of those albums are my favourite albums in the whole entire world. This record sees Black Francis working with Eric Drew Feldman on keys again (and co-producing with Mr. Francis) which is always a winning combination. It’s also surprisingly sexy.

Not suitable for the kiddies.
Not suitable for the kiddies.

Lake of Sin starts off as all great records do, with drumming.  I’m pretty sure it’s about vaginas. O My Tidy Sum has some really cool synthesised strings and organ and stuff, while Black Francis sings in an impossibly high voice. It’s great!

Rabbits is probably even more difficult to sing along to, which is a shame because it’s the catchiest slow song you’ll ever hear. This one features not only mock-saxomaphone but also mock-harpsichord and is definitely a highlight.

Rabbits?

Wheels is a cover of a Gram Parsons/Flying Burrito Brothers song which is nicely sped-up and rocked-out but still retains some of that good ole country flavour with that dash of Gram Parsons’ own brand of desperation. Unlike most cover songs it fits perfectly on the record alongside the originals and inspired me to check out the original artist properly. Thank you, Black Francis!

You know what totally rocks? Dead Man’s Curve. There’s another version of this available on his earlier live-acoustic record, Christmass, so it’s interesting to hear how it developed in the years between that album and this one. There’s some classic Black Francis screaming in this one too.

Corrina is a nice punky fast little number which is a little overshadowed by the similar-but-better Six Legged Man coming next but I suppose every album has to have at least one participation trophy recipient. Wild Son is where NonStopErotik starts getting sexy again with some slight Sade piano and more difficult singing.

That's a very good try, yeah? Yeah.
That’s a very good try.

The last three songs are probably the best on the record. When I Go Down on You is the sickliest sort of ballad, drenched in honey and reverb. Title track NonStopErotik follows, stripping it all down to sensual piano and synth-strings with a slinky guitar solo thrown in for maximum sex. Both songs are kind of gross and very funny for it, which I believe was intended.

Speaking of which, “I wanna be inside, that’s my intention… inside of yooooooooouuuu” has to be one of the finest lines in the history of songwriting and is reminiscent of Mike Patton’s “Eeeeewww!” in the middle of Faith No More’s Lionel Richie’s Commodores’ Easy.

Cinema Star is a classic rock ‘n’ roll closing song, being enough to close the album in a satisfying way but not so much that you can’t just press play again (which I often do). The players all drop out one by one towards the end, leaving a mental image of everybody putting their instruments down and buggering off for a pint while Eric Drew Feldman tries desperately to finish the song.

For all that’s funny about these songs, there’s also a sincerity in the writing and the performance that helps keep it from descending into the knowing irony that has marred so many wonderful things. Black Francis – keeping it real as always.

NonStopErotik track list:

  1. Lake of Sin
  2. O My Tidy Sum
  3. Rabbits
  4. Wheels
  5. Dead Man’s Curve
  6. Corrina
  7. Six Legged Man
  8. Wild Son
  9. When I Go Down on You
  10. Nonstoperotik
  11. Cinema Star
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