Lazy Journalism, part 1
How hard is it to string a few words together? How hard is it to google something? So why is music journalism often so lazy?
Part 2 of this occasional feature might try to find a piece – blog or print – that mentions the Polyphonic Spree without also using the word ‘cult’ or that spends more time on the music than the outfits. But Part 1 is dedicated to Charles Michael Kittridge Thompson IV, or Frank Black/Black Francis/whatever. Because I’ve been belatedly stirred to write something about his last album, Bluefinger, by the indolence, stupidity and sheer dullness of everything I’ve read about it (besides the excellent fan forum, obviously). Not that people have been unkind. No. In fact they’ve been raving because it sounds like Pixies. Supporting evidence: it appeared c/o ‘Black Francis’ rather than ‘Frank Black’, which he’s been trading under since the old band split up, and because he screams on it. Which tells me that amateur blogger and p*tchfork-generation idiot journos alike have not really been listening or thinking very hard.
Because it is a fine album, but it sounds quite a bit like the last several. Mr Thompson has been extremely productive since Pixies split – I count a dozen albums since 1993 – and if you haven’t been paying attention the received wisdom is that he’s become increasingly dull. ‘Honeycomb’ attracted a lot of ire because it sounded a little rootsy. So after that Bluefinger had to be much more interesting, right?
Well maybe. To me it sounds like a solo album. Yes, there’s some screaming, but there was a lot more to the Pixies than that and he has been doing it for a while. Yes, Bluefinger is the work of Black Francis, but on the iTunes ep that came out shortly after he’s back to Frank Black, and sounding the same either way. So for the record: the Pixies were quite complicated and did lots of different things. The same goes for the solo projects of FB and Kim Deal. So instead of reaching for the easy answer, why not listen to all the solo albums before writing your piece?
Anyway. Some highlights:
Threshold Apprehension – Black Francis
You Can’t Break A Heart and Have It – Black Francis