Release Date: Sep 3, 2013
Record label: !K7
Genre(s): Pop/Rock, Alternative/Indie Rock, Indie Rock
It can be difficult to hear this new EP from Pixies over the sound of the alarm bells ringing since bassist Kim Deal’s departure. If you can silence them, you’ll get the good ol’ fashioned loud-quiet-loud of ‘Indie Cindy’, and a trio of downbeat tracks (‘Andro Queen’, ‘Another Toe In The Ocean’, ‘What Goes Boom’) that would have made it onto a decent Frank Black solo album. The legendary Boston band have chosen to make this, their first extended release in 22 years, the first in a series of EPs rather than recording a full album.
In 2004, Pixies teased us with the one-off track "Bam Thwok," a ragged, weird little jam that reminded us of what we loved about the Pixies of yore. Then nothing until a couple months ago, when they dropped "Bagboy," their first song without Kim Deal on bass. This worried me. It was weird too, but not in the best "Pixies" way.Now suddenly we have the new EP1.
At 48, Pixies singer Black Francis has either lost or abandoned his flair for sounding like the most unhinged man in indie rock. On "Indie Cindy," off this four-song EP, he declares himself "the burgermeister of purgatory." But like Joey Santiago's stocky washes of distorted guitar, he sounds more collected than the circumstances demand. That's no way to get Cindy back, Francis.
The sad spoils of a job in music criticism: I am finally given the chance to review a new release by the Pixies, and it's this. There is a bitter personal irony in the moment, a momentary affirmation of a fear that anyone chasing the culture industry contends with occasionally: I got here too late. Anything worth covering has already happened. I don’t really feel that way, of course, but this quickie EP, dropped into the world two days ago, prompts bleak thoughts, at least while it’s on.
The first ‘proper’ release from the Pixies since 1991 takes the form of this brief four song EP, the inaugural release in a series to be issued direct through the band’s website. Aside from ‘Bagboy’ - a tune-free chant reminiscent of some anonymous rawk band filling in a Pixies-by-numbers painting book that limped out earlier this year – and the cartoonish, carnival-fun, Kim Deal-led ‘Bam Thwok’ from 2004, this is the only artifact we have to grasp to our palpitating chests in the decade since the band were reunited. That Kim Deal is absent can’t be ignored – yet while blogs, buzz sites and message boards have erupted into fits of righteous anger over her departure and the band’s decision to continue without her, it must be noted that these new releases probably would not be happening were she still in the ranks – Deal was, it seems, always the least enthused about issuing new material of any kind lest it diminish the legend of musical history’s key alt-rock band.
First, a disclaimer: Pixies are my favourite ever band and Surfer Rosa my favourite ever album. If you pushed me into a ridiculously tight corner, I'd tell you 'Bone Machine' is my favourite ever song. Or maybe 'River Euphrates' or 'Gouge Away' or 'Levitate Me'. Their 1989 gig at Leeds Polytechnic is still one the greatest shows I've ever seen.