By John Curley
The Pixies reunited in 2004 to great acclaim and have performed together off and on since then. In October 2012, shortly after the band began recording their first new material since 1991’s Trompe Le Monde album, longtime bassist Kim Deal left the band. While Deal’s departure has been upsetting to many fans, the other members—lead vocalist/guitarist Black Francis, guitarist Joey Santiago, and drummer David Lovering—decided to carry on and proceeded to continue recording the new material with bassist Simon “Dingo” Archer and backing vocalist Jeremy Dubs. The new material was recorded at Rockfield Studios in Wales and the project was helmed by their longtime producer Gil Norton. Since the recording had been done in secret, it was a well-received surprise when The Pixies released the terrific standalone single “Bagboy” as a free download on June 28th of last year. The first multisong batch of new material was released as EP-1 on September 3, 2013 and a second EP, titled EP-2, dropped on January 3rd of this year. A third EP, which is called EP-3, was recently released. A good bit of the new material has been performed in The Pixies’ recent live shows.
The Pixies will be releasing all of the new material—the “Bagboy” single and all of the songs on the three EPs—in a single album titled Indie Cindy. The album is being released in North America on Tuesday, April 29th on the band’s own label, Pixiesmusic. All of the trademark elements of The Pixies’ sound are present: the loud/quiet/loud dynamic, snarling guitars, dreamlike music quickly morphing into a cacophony of sound, and the occasional use of Spanish-language lyrics.
The album kicks off with the blistering “What Goes Boom,” in which The Pixies shake off the cobwebs in grand fashion. Featuring Santiago’s roaring guitar, Francis’ shouted vocals, and Lovering’s machine-gun drumming, “What Goes Boom” sounds like a track that could have been recorded in 1988.
The album is packed with standout tracks. “Greens and Blues” is a terrific track that floats along at a dreamlike pace and is a perfect contrast to “What Goes Boom,” which precedes it. The title track, “Indie Cindy,” goes one further, progressing from soft to harsh in a nanosecond. In “Bagboy,” the pace of the music quickens as the song goes on, starting with Francis’ spoken-word bit over the slowburn of the music and ratcheting up the volume slowly until Francis is screaming the title of the song over Santiago’s incendiary guitar playing. “Magdalena 318” is anchored by Santiago’s fantastic guitar work and powered by Francis’ vocals. “Blue Eyed Hexe” is a very effective track that features Francis shifting gears from a spoken-word style to a scream-shriek. “Another Toe in the Ocean” is a great song that highlights Francis’ vocals, and his vocals on the song are in contrast to the rest of tracks on the album in that they are sung in a somewhat mellow style as opposed to being spoken or shouted. “Andro Queen” floats along majestically on Francis’ spoken-word vocals. And “Snakes” features Santiago’s magnificent guitar work.
There has been some criticism of the lyrics in The Pixies’ new material. But The Pixies’ music has never been about deep lyrics. It’s more about how the sound of the words being sung, spoken, or shouted work with the music. On Indie Cindy, the lyrics, meaningless or not, fit in quite well with the music.
The Indie Cindy album presents a band that, despite the departure of Deal, still burns and rocks just as hard as they did in their heyday. It’s one of the best albums of the year to date.