Black Francis keeps it short and sweet on his new ‘mini-album’, Svn Fngrs. After loosely basing a record around Dutch artist and musician Herman Brood, last year’s Bluefinger (QRO review), Black Francis (a.k.a. Frank Black) has now put out an EP loosely based around Ireland’s mythic hero Cúchulainn. While not very different than Bluefinger, and better when it isn’t, Svn Fngrs is a nice little addition to the once-and-future Pixies’ storied discography.
Unfortunately, Svn Fngrs opens on its weakest track, the weird-country “The Seus”. It’s memorable, but the freaky beat leaves it a little nauseating. But after that, Francis sticks to his more blues form of alternative music, mixing his strong guitar work with unique high vocals, such as on the following “Garbage Heap” and relaxed “Half Man”.
Svn Fngrs steps it up a notch when Francis has more fun, starting with the driving bass of “I Sent Away”. “Seven Fingers”, one of the two tracks about Cúchulainn (who, legend had it, had seven fingers and seven toes), is more of a low-down fun. While finisher “When They Come to Murder Me” (the other Cúchulainn piece) is epic and grand, it’s a little limited. Stronger, perhaps strongest on the record, is the in-between “The Tale of Lonesome Fetter”. It’s sadder and more melodic, yet the song also has hooks.
Only a few months ago, Francis had set-up a free ‘precore’ show (in lieu of an encore for the paid event that night) in Dublin’s St Stephen’s Green, but was hauled away by the Irish Gardai (police) in an attempt to break up the crowd. Whether tales of Irish heroes had been bouncing in his head before that (or he just wondered what a seven-fingered guitar player could do…), Svn Fngrs is a nice addition to Bluefinger.