Cooking Vinyl – 2001 – 47 minutes

To live down or live with a legacy? That's the question that has hung around Frank Black for the last nine years. His former band, the Pixies, was the classiest of acts, an outfit that saved the late 1980s with their mesh of power chords, indie sensibilities and Black's tales of visiting extra-terrestrials and wayward Hispanics. Since they imploded in 1992, he has gone down the solo route, rarely hitting full speed and often buckling under the weight of the quartet's brilliance - either sounding like he wanted to bring every Pixies fan with him or trying to pretend that godsend albums like 'Doolittle' never happened. Which is why 'Dog In The Sand' ranks as one of the great comeback albums in some time.

It seems that Black has squared himself with the fact that he made a generation pick up guitars, and now strums between his musical heritage and slower, more reflective songs. Self-produced, the results are crisp and no-nonsense, but still manage to find niches for honky-tonk pianos, rollicking drums and the guitar of former Pixie Joey Santiago in between Black's high pitched musings. 'Stupid Me' and 'I'll Be Blue' are dead-eye laments for those who put aside their doc boots a long time ago, but they're brilliantly balanced by the likes of 'Robert Onion' and 'Hermaphroditos', as riotous as anything the Pixies ever snarled. And by the time album closer 'Dig In The Sand' rolls along the rebirth is complete, with Black sounding healthier than he's done in years, the line 'This is your new home' sums up the spirit of the entire album. Black is back, and with a future that sounds every bit as bright as his past.

Harry Guerin

Tracklisting: Blast Off - I've Seen Your Picture - St. Francis Dam Disaster - Robert Onion - Stupid Me - Bullet - The Swimmer - Hermaphroditos - I'll Be Blue - Llano Del Rio - It Takes All Night - Dig In The Sand