By David Browne
Updated July 18, 2005 at 04:00 AM EDT

If you thought the Pixies reunion was a surprise, wait until you hear the direction frontman Frank Black takes on his latest solo album, Honeycomb. His lyrics are still skewed (he pines after a mythical creature in ”Selkie Bride”) and rueful (”Hold my heartstrings and have yourself a strum”). But thanks to old-school sidemen like guitarist Steve Cropper, the music is Black’s take on Southern soul: spare, graceful, in the pocket, with Black himself sounding reborn and relaxed. If his old band’s re-formation doesn’t last, Black could have another, equally rewarding future ahead of him.