Indie Cindy, the surprise new Pixies album, is out next week.
What? A surprise new Pixies album?
Well, that depends what you call ‘Pixies’. Iconic bassist Kim Deal, reportedly against the idea of a new album, left last summer, and the band has since been dismissed by purists as inauthentic.
So a surprise new nearly-Pixies album?
That depends what you call ‘new’. Indie Cindy is essentially a compilation of the three EPs and the single Bagboy that they’ve released since Kim left.
So a surprise nearly-Pixies compilation album?
That depends what you call ‘surprise’…
Shut up, is it any good?
It’s brilliant. Black Francis has delved deep into his bag of sinister sci-fi songs and rummaged for the slippery tunes most likely to have slotted onto the slightly gentler but ceaselessly melodic follow-up to 1991’s metal-friendly Trompe Le Monde that they might’ve made had he not sacked them all by fax.
Yup. Tracks like Ring The Bell and Magdalena make Here Comes Your Man sound like Cradle Of Filth and Andro Queen is a slick, luxuriant, echo-laden military marching lament featuring Francis cooing “loving on our bed of flowers”. There is as much acoustic strumming as there is dense rock chug. Age, it appears, has mellowed them.
Does it not rock, then?
When it wants to, yes. Joey Santiago’s trademark fret freak-outs abound – he sounds like he’s wrestling a nest of anaconda on Snakes – What Goes Boom opens the record with a (ahem) bang and Blue Eyed Hexe is built on exactly the sort of meaty rock riff homage that made Trompe Le Monde sound like an AC/DC gig on Neptune.
Blue Eyed Hexe, you say – sounds like Frank’s been dusting off the Screaming Spanish Maniac’s Guide To Mythology again.
Actually, the themes of Indie Cindy are more Bossanova than Doolittle. The stirring Greens And Blues appears to concern a mysterious non-human visitor to “this shore” while Andro Queen is all about falling in love with a robot space lady who’s “off on her silver rocket, off to the gas and rings of Saturn” and even features a bridge in Esperanto, the easiest language to teach to aliens.
Long-awaited comeback albums are notoriously disappointing though; doesn’t it pale in comparison to the gory glory days of 1989?
Of course it’s no Doolittle; if anything it slots neatly between Bossanova and Trompe Le Monde. It’s always going to smack a little of a Pixiefied Frank Black solo album and you can’t expect the fury, frustration and Biblical wickedness of youth – they’d all but shed that in favour of scorching sci-fi metal noise by their first split anyway. But it’s more consistently tuneful than Trompe…, heavier (in places) than Bossanova and bears the brunt of some classic Black Francis devil-bawls. Deal’s cute-child-lost-in-Hades presence is missed – the Kim-like vocals on Bagboy are actually by Jeremy Dubs from Bunnies - but as a snapshot of where Pixies might’ve got to by middle age, especially considering the sludgefeasts of Frank Black’s Catholics material and his occasional dabbles in trad country, it could be a whole lot more self-indulgent and a whole lot less vital.(https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=w1vdYTzPtKQ)