Every band that decides to get back together is faced with a difficult decision: the easy way or the hard way. The easy way is to spend the rest of their careers in service to their fans nostalgia and memories, trotting out the classics and sliding down the festival line-ups as the novelty wears off. The hard way is for their band to simply pick up where they left off and return to the studio, producing music that will almost inevitably disappoint their fans, but will at least shake off some of the repetition regarding setlists.
The Pixies never would have been able to sustain themselves as a nostalgia band like the Rolling Stones. One of the most unique bands of all time, Pixies arrived not only fully formed, but sounding like nothing else. The influence of classic albums like Doolittle has placed their legacy ahead of their alt-rock peers. No band so admired by everyone from Kurt Cobain to David Bowie could be expected to become soulless “performers”. It may have taken the loss of the beloved Kim Deal, but Pixies have taken a huge risk in an already brave career.
The nature of Indie Cindy’s release seems apologetic, if not cautious. Most of the songs on this album have already been heard and digested by fans, released across three EPs ranging since September, with a response that has been “lukewarm” at best. By revealing this album piece by piece the band seem keen to disappoint their fans and press in the most polite way possible. However listening to this cherry picking of the EPs, the whole venture makes a little more sense, with the album getting off to a good start. “What Goes Boom” and “Greens and Blues” make a great impression, both might have found their way on to any of the Pixies last albums. It’s when we are re-introduced to the awful title track that we are given a warning of what is to come.
“Bagboy” is the album’s highlight. The first song released from the new recordings it’s the only point where the band rediscovers how great their future could be. Bizarre whilst still in essence a pop song, it strikes the balance they once did with so much ease. Throughout the rest of the album, the band fails in trying to capture this. “Silver Snail” is so ploddingly awful it makes claim to be the worst song Pixies have yet produced. The fact that it faces competition from the rest of the album is a very depressing reality.
When the listener reaches “Another Toe in the Ocean” it dawns just how ordinary this band sounds. Gone is the ground-breaking, abstract and head-scratching time-changing tunefulness of old. Pixies have become an ordinary Rock band. On songs like “Andro Queen” and “Snakes” any attempts to capture that early weirdness sounds forced.
Pixies should be applauded for taking this enormous risk in the first place, but this goodwill only goes so far.
Image: In Between the Tracks