Artist: Black Francis

Album: Nonstop

Reviewer: John Calvert

The Quietus, 2010

Writing Disorders: Jargon Palsy, Idea Fever








Stuffiest Phrase: “bears little of the abstract parenthesis and structural inventiveness exhumed”

WTF: “curiouser and curiouser until the Vagina Dentata”




Before I get to John Calvert’s review, let’s start with a selection from the comment board. It’s a John Doran featurette — three…maybe four…back to back…John Doran comments:





I’ve had words with the editor of The Quietus in my own day, so I’m not surprised to see him go apeshit on his own ridiculous site. I got John’s saucy tongue up my inbox when I made fun of his Jaga Jazzist review, but apparently it takes far less to set him off on a comment board. Man’s got a chigger up a chapped ass.

I wouldn’t want him in charge of my zine for the mentally obese, but John did get me thinking about one thing. What made readers light his butt fuse so close to the knot with this review?

Turns out there’s plenty of justification. I didn’t even know where to start laughing. It took a few rereads, but far as I can tell, the review serves two purposes. One is to complain there’s not enough Pixies in Frank Black’s 19th solo album since leaving the band. The other’s to give John Calvert a playoff berth in Metaphor Fest 2010.

“It’s like scratching with the fingers of an amputated limb”

“the cleft-lipped Svn Fingers was hacked up like a toxic fur-ball”

“the songs are pretty girls with bad breath”

Honestly, John, did you have this mountain of self-gratification mapped out before you even heard the album? Call me crazy, but I reckon an article built on clever abstractions of sounds is more “vaguely insipid” than the actual sounds. One reason I’m trying to suffocate your style of chunky brown writing is it’s by far the worst way to explain a musical release. At least you can rest assured most of the Quietus is just as bad. I only found your turd through a tip. Thanks, Chloe.

Oh, then there’s the Pixies nostalgia:

“This melodiously bullet-proof songcraft plain begs to be disfigured into inverted forms, Pixies-style.”

“They’re so missed as animators to Franks’ songs”

“It could be described as Pixies without the punk – sorry, Frank, but it’d be remiss not to compare and contrast”

So listen to a goddamn Pixies album, dude. There are five out there to choose from, but before you go thumbing the LPs, lend me an ear. This is a teachable moment, John. To me it’s a limp gripe hounding a musician for not re-recording stuff his band made famous 20 years ago. Since half a trillion bands have woven Pixies into their DNA, maybe the lead singer wants to make something different. If he didn’t yelp enough over a plunking bass line for your taste, I think it says more about you than it does about him, and half this review was a transcript of you moaning about that rod up your butt. When you finally stop for breath, you drop a quick gripe or two about Black not being punk enough:

“without a manifesto of punk-experimental malintent in hand, is nothing short of a torturous tease.”

John, the man’s 45 years old. I’m not nearly that old yet, but I can’t say I’d be clamoring to swing my gut around like 1989 if I was. As Mr. Strummer once said, “you grow up and you calm down.” If the guy wants to play country rock, that’s his business. It’s probably better for his LDL count anyway.

John…and John, you might consider rereading the comments under this review. The day a music zine can’t take criticism is a day that’s good for me, not you. Keep it in mind.