The Pixies could do no wrong throughout their initial run in the late 80’s / early 90’s, so 10 years ago they reformed to much larger crowds and gushing accolades. The only problem for me was that there was almost no new material forthcoming – 1 original (“Bam Thwok”) and 1 cover (Warren Zevon’s “Ain’t That Pretty At All”). And that’s where the Pixies discography stayed throughout another 8 or 9 years of reunion concerts. 2013 brought the departure of founding bassist Kim Deal and a flurry of new studio material. But was it any good?
The truth is – it depends on who you talk to (or what you read / believe). Have you ever connected with an old friend from high school over “The Social Network”? The bond might remain but it can never be exactly how it was 15 or 20 years ago – there’s been life experience in the interim. So it goes with the Pixies. I like everything that has been released over the last 8 months (the “Bagboy” single and EP1) but it isn’t exactly like the Pixies who sang “Monkey Gone to Heaven”. And you know what? That’s OK. If you ignore a handful of reviews that focus on comparing the modern Pixies to the band of yore, you’ll find the 2nd EP in a row that has solid tunes. The sound veers towards the 1st two Frank Black records, before the formation of The Catholics.
“Blue Eyed Hexe” is the single culled from the release and leads off the mini album. A grunge-like guitar tone shifting into a full on classic rock assault, it features vintage Black Francis vocals. He even reaches for the upper register screams towards the end which was a welcome surprise. A tale about a witch-woman from the Northwest part of the UK. “Magdalena” has an initial catchy guitar refrain that seems borrowed from “Lakini’s Juice” by Live. The song shifts into a dreamy surf-pop sing-a-long that would fit on the Bossanova album. “Greens and Blues” is not an homage to The Monkees tune “Early Morning Blues and Greens”. A mid tempo rocker that again leans on the surf-pop vibe. “Snakes” is a little more polished, a little more post-punk than we ordinarily hear from the Pixies, but it works fairly well. Black Francis / Frank Black seamlessly shifts from sweetly spoken vocals to a full on aggressive stance. This isn’t a perfect release – the track sequencing seems a little front loaded to me. No matter, that’s what shuffle is for. You can pick up the EP via the band’s website here.
Verdict: Nostalgia is for suckers
For Fans of: The Breeders, Dinosaur Jr., Nirvana, Pavement, Neil Young