As a solo artist or with the Pixies, when you think of the music created by Black Francis, or his alter ego Frank Black, you think of its coiled intensity released into bursts of rock ‘n’ roll napalm. His latest, NonStopErotik, hits on all those elements from his previous recordings, making for 11 tracks of prime Charles Thompson. Sometimes, he goes lo-fi (the fuzz and volume overload on “Corrina”), occasionally placid (“Oh My Tidy Sum,” “Rabbits”) but always highly melodic (all 10 original tracks plus a cover of the Flying Burrito Brothers’ “Wheels”). The impact of his natural and unending musical gifts can be heard in the 25-second intro on opening track, “Lake of Sin” while fans of the Pixies should find a moment of pleasure in the ferocity of “Six Legged Man.”
Produced by Thompson and longtime collaborator Eric Drew Feldman the album seamlessly moves from electric thrash to acoustic tranquility and the areas in between, causing the numbers’ overall accumulation to develop into a roller coaster rush of sound. Accentuating this plan of attack, Thompson’s economic songwriting allows him to get out his sonic statement and immediately move on to the next number. In a move that would make the Ramones proud as most of the songs on NonStopErotik do not stretch past the three-minute mark. Although the music swings by in memorable and hook-fueled blasts, the lyrical ideas surrounding them focus on themes are nonstop erotic. For much of the album its in subtle ways, alluding to religion (“Lake of Sin”), animal instincts (“Rabbits”) and the thrill of auto-eroticism (the one-two punch of “Wheels” followed by “Dead Man’s Curve”). Although, he’s more direct on “When I Go Down On You” and the title track, there’s a certain romantic quality to his thoughts than mere lasciviousness. With his 45th birthday coming up on April 6, Thompson keeps middle age at bay with an album that achieves a comfortable middle ground, combining youthful energy with the mature songwriting developed over his adult years.