i love how everyone acts surprised that a 50 year old man can't write songs the way he did when he was 25. there's so many variables to explain why.
the guy lives on a farm with his wife and kids, how dejected is he supposed to feel? he has no fire in him, nor purpose. the guy hangs out with fuckin Bono, dudes. the black francis on these songs isn't even the same artist anymore.
in the pixies earlier days he would slave on songs. perfect the chord patterns and rhythms, and then ride the T around Boston for hours on end working on lyrics. as his solo career went on he got a lot more spontaneous in his writing, and now we are here. to me it seems like he's trying to write pixies songs but with the spontaneity of his solo work...not good.
also, there's just no influence here. it just sounds like nothing in the real world is interesting him. it's as if behind the curtain is the president of all things indie, and he's got a gun to Franks head, and Frank is going "how bout this? just please don't hurt me..."