Grand Duchy: Petit Fours

If Grand Duchy’s Petit Fours sounds like an overt throwback to the uncomplicated, low-budget sonics of ‘80s indie rock, there’s a very good reason: One half of this husband and wife duo is Frank Black, a.k.a. Black Francis, a.k.a. the creative engine that drove the Pixies during its seminal late ‘80s/early ‘90s run. Black’s attitude toward that period has always been ambivalent at best – he’s been quoted as saying he “spent the latter part of the ‘80s doing my part to destroy the ‘80s” – but paired here with wife Violet Clark, he allows the more accessible elements of his music to surface, creating one of the most consistently enjoyable efforts of his post-Pixies career in the process. Petit Fours’ consistency is somewhat ironic, given its resolute eclecticism; not only does none of this stuff sound particularly Pixies-ish, quite a lot of it sounds like it couldn’t have been recorded by the same band. Most groups can’t run the distance between the growly garage stomp of “Come Over to My House” and the poppy “Lovesick” without falling down, but Grand Duchy serves them up back to back, setting the tone for nine tracks of genre-bending home-studio fun. Will any of it supplant Doolittle in your collection? Highly doubtful, but it’s nice to know the old misanthrope still has some hooks left in him. If Black’s smart, he’ll keep the Pixies on the road and continue writing new material with his talented better half. (Cooking Vinyl 2009)

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