This collaboration between Black Francis and his partner Violet Clark sees the former Pixie on fine form.
It really is a partnership to rival his sparring with Kim Deal on the Pixies efforts. On Fort Wayne, for example the backing melody could have been the deal herself. Clark's voice doesn't have the American drawl that typifies Deal's performance and she is more reminiscent of Kristen Hersch/ Tanya Donnelly, and that, if you cast your mind back to the early 90's, is no bad thing.
Black's contribution is strangely muted, taking the back seat on the majority of tracks. The songwriting is strong and the use of electronic gadgetry on some tracks is most welcome, adding another, sometimes dreamy, wistful, air to the tunes. His growly trademark, off key guitar lines are ever present and reminds you of the Pixies heyday. But the songs, while looking forward and sounding modern will always have one foot firmly in the past due to the unmistakeable input from Black.
Seeing Stars is a highlight, using all of the above ingredients to great effect. When the going gets a bit more rocking, (Black Suit) it is closer to his solo efforts than the Pixies but the ever present presence of Violet take the edge off.
It's a varied, surprising album and if you have become a bit bored with his output of late, this should give you the jolt to put a little black back in your heart.