Having both toured with and collaborated with Frank Black/Black Francis over the last few years, Reid Paley may not be an instantly recognisable name but his influence has been felt on much of Black’s post Pixies work.
Recorded in just 48 hours, the first ‘official’ union of Paley & Francis is a suitably loose affair. It does indeed feel like it was conceived in a bar late at night over more than a couple of whiskeys so whilst this is no Pixies style rock album, the weirdness that abounds virtually everything Black touches is still present. If the Titty Twister in From Dusk til Dawn was to stage an open mic night, it is pretty safe to bet thatPaley & Francis would not struggle to fit in. As if to prove the point, opening track ‘Curse’ has Black promising to ‘Have a drink from your jugular vein’ before you even get to the chorus.
Francis’ distinctive tone sits nicely against the gruff, throaty growl of Paley as the pair swap vocal duties, taking it in turns to lead, each singing their own set of lyrics. Whilst Black will always win the ‘WTF’ award for his lyrics, Paley clearly shares a little of his dark side and tracks like ‘Ugly Life’ are grimy yet addictive.
‘Crescent Moon’ is the closet to a Pixies track with Francis’ helium vocals dancing over a Kim Deal style bass line. Paley closes with ‘Happy Shoes’, a pleasingly twisted shuffle and one suspects those shoes may not be quite as happy as he would lead you to believe.
Veering between alt. country, Americana and even a slightly macabre gospel, the songs are laid back and fuelled by whiskey rather than adrenaline. Despite the speed with which they were written and recorded the album never feels rushed or half hearted. There is a clear chemistry between the pair and without it they would not be able to pull off an album of this calibre in such a short space of time. Reid shows himself to be an interesting talent and certainly holds his own here, whilst this may not be everyone’s cup of tea it is a strangely compelling listen.
Find out more about the Paley & Francis pairing HERE.