Grand Duchy – Petit Fours

January 01, 1970

(Cooking Vinyl)

Black Francis and his wife, Violet Clark, entered a recording studio sometime
during the last year and were thrust into a time warp which landed them in the
mid-‘80s. After several close encounters with black holes and red dwarfs, the
resulting twitch in the space-time continuum gave birth to their new project,
known from hereon out as Grand Duchy.


Their new album, Petit
is probably the closest thing to the Pixies since, well, the
reuniting of the Pixies. Specifically, Grand Duchy plays a similar brand of
futuristic power-pop that made albums like Trompe
Le Monde
so urgently weird and rocking. Francis and Clark
trade off vocals throughout, over a minimal but driving blend of distorted
power chords, shimmering synths, and basic drumbeats – some real, some
programmed. The overall tone of the album is dark and epic. “Black Suit” is a
good example of this, as Francis turns his croon into a growl over a Joy
Division backdrop. There are lighter moments, such as “Fort
Wayne,” a mid-tempo ode to “kids swaying to rock and roll beats,”
punctuated by Clark’s “la-la-la’s.” When she
handles lead vocals, as on the poppy “Lovesick,” the album doesn’t lose any
steam – proof that this isn’t a pet project resting squarely on Francis’


Fans of the Pixies who haven’t been totally sold on Black
Francis’ rock and roll-country hybrid solo work over the past few years will
get great satisfaction out of this new project. This might just be the best
husband-wife musical team since Ike and Tina.


Standout Tracks: “Fort Wayne” “Black Suit” JONAH FLICKER


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