Release Date: Jan 13, 2014
Record label: Self-released
Genre(s): Pop/Rock, Alternative/Indie Rock, Alternative Pop/Rock, Indie Rock, College Rock
If Orson Welles was resurrected tomorrow, would he want to remake Citizen Kane in 4K CGI for the IMAX? Would Michelangelo have a crack at another chapel to prove he still had it? Would DH Lawrence, noting the successes of Fifty Shades Of Grey, rush out Lady Chatterley’s BDSM Lover to cash in? Ten years into their reunion and, with the advent of new material, the Pixies discussion is now all about authenticity and protectionism – how dare they taint a virtually faultless body of work in the late 80s and early 90s by recording new songs and playing without Kim Deal, herself a long-term advocate of not screwing with the legacy? How could they ever dream of matching ‘Gouge Away’, ‘Where Is My Mind?’ or ‘Motorway To Roswell’, at their age?It’s a reductive argument – any fan of imaginatively scabrous alternative rock craves more Pixies songs like Cornwall, Devon and Wales currently crave sandbags. And contrary to all expectation, they’re doing a stunning job of imagining what the glossier Pixies record that never got made between the harsh metallic slashes of ‘Trompe Le Monde’ and the esoteric melodicism of Frank Black’s solo debut might have sounded like. As with the brilliant ‘EP-1’ these four new tracks, produced by Gil Norton of ‘Doolittle’ infamy, eschew any attempt to recreate the breathless brutalities of ‘Doolittle’ or ‘Surfer Rosa’ and instead move Pixies boldly on.
Here’s an experiment. Track down Derren Brown and get him to wipe all knowledge of the Pixies' reunion from your mind. Now listen to EP2 with no knowledge of who is behind it. What do you think? How do you feel? Weirdly, your first thought is unlikely to be 'ooh, this sounds like the Pixies!' It does of course, but in the field of indie rock so does pretty much everything - you can’t do this sort of punchy, quirky guitar pop without the Pixies being in the background.
A funny thing happened Saturday morning when I was listening to Pixies' EP2. The third verse of "Blue Eyed Hexe" hits and Black Francis is shrieking in a high register. From across the room my wife exclaims, "...is this AC/DC?!" It was hilarious since just awhile back in our Punknews story on the "Blue Eyed Hexe" video (and I can't believe I'm about the reference a commenter in a review), Fuckyou6666 wrote, "Does anyone else think this song sounds a lot like back in black? Seriously reminds me of AC DC".
The second installment of the Pixies' hiatus-breaking EPs arrived almost as suddenly as EP1, and whether it was because of lowered expectations or the band getting back into a groove, EP2 feels more satisfying than its fitfully entertaining predecessor. Like EP1, these songs bridge Trompe le Monde's muscular approach and the fuller, more flowing sound of Frank Black/Black Francis solo releases like Teenager of the Year and Bluefinger. However, this time around it feels like a more natural melding of what Francis was doing on his own and what a 21st century incarnation of the Pixies could be.
Review Summary: Christmas is a time for elves, January is a time for PixiesAt what point do we stop comparing an artist’s prior body of work with its successors?Inevitably, Pixies suffered the is-it-as-good-as-their-old-stuff routine upon the release of 2013’s EP1. Sniffy reviews from the likes of Pitchfork (surprise, surprise) meant that the EP’s merits were quickly snatched away when unfair comparisons were made to records crafted over two decades ago. But Pixies are a movement within themselves, and a core and devoted fanbase allied with a strong, extensive touring routine meant that any reservations about a matured and evolved Pixies moving into a new age could be shelved.
It's not quite the Pixies; more like spray-on Pixies. As with EP 1, released last fall, this four-song set feels like a faint echo of the band's later albums, 1990's Bossanova and 1991's Trompe le Monde, lacking those records' frizzy menace, zany propulsion and memorable tunes. "Blue Eyed Hexe" wanly recapitulates that voodoo that they used to do so well, with guitarist Joey Santiago bringing sidelong scorch, and on "Greens and Blues" Black Francis sorta summons the screaming menace of old.
If you’re anything like me, you woke up on New Year’s Day 2014 with a pounding headache, last night’s party detritus strewn around you and news of a new Pixies release in your inbox. You also avoided clicking on it for a while, knowing that the potential for disappointment was high and wishing to spare yourself a letdown from one of your favorite bands. It’s hard to believe that we’d ever get to a place where news of new Pixies songs would ever elicit this kind of trepidation or, God forbid, sheer lack of interest, but it appears that’s exactly what has happened.
Many groups go away then return to us diminished—Goodie Mob, Black Flag, the Stooges, Smashing Pumpkins. We have more or less reconciled ourselves to this phenomenon. But very few bands come back wiped clean of their basic essence, as the Pixies did with last fall's EP-1. Their mystery, their fidgety precision, their peculiar tensed grin, was simply erased, replaced by an utterly indistinguishable modern 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 ….
And so it goes: almost twenty-five years ago to the month, six years before it was certified gold in the States, Pixies set free into the world their landmark and boundlessly influential second studio album, Doolittle. Lappers of scuzzy weirdness agog, the band embarked on yet another heady European and American tour – a purportedly tension-riddled expedition that resulted in the band taking a six-month hiatus to defuse an ever-growing rivalry between their burly and creatively autocratic frontman Black Francis and their equally-as aspiring twenty-eight year old bassist in Kim Deal, who kickstarted The Breeders in the otherwise uncertain days of mid-1990. Cut to a quarter of a century later and things, despite the odd recurring parallel or two, are a little more convoluted.