In many ways, Massachusetts’ Pixies began the early nineties alt-rock revolution, though weren’t around to see it blossom, breaking up in 1993 as singer/guitarist Black Francis went solo as Frank Black, while singer/bassist Kim Deal formed The Breeders. Black (back to Francis) and Deal somehow buried the hatchet to reunite with guitarist Joey Santiago and drummer David Lovering at Coachella in 2004 – and basically began the twenty-first century alt-rock reunion trend.
Yet for a band that was always ahead of the curve, they were soon accused of being behind it – way behind, as they toured their great old records over-and-over, such as twentieth anniversary of Doolittle (QRO live review) in 2009. Other reunions either came and went (see Pavement’s in 2010 – QRO live review) or soon put out new material (like Dinosaur Jr. – QRO live review), so the clock ticked on Pixies 2.0. But you also knew that anything new they did would have a very high bar to reach, not to mention being accused of ‘sounding like the Pixies’.
But the Pixies have finally put out new music – after Kim Deal left again, of course, to return to her Breeders (QRO live review) – and even if it’s not as good as the classics, even if it does ‘sound like the Pixies’, Indie Cindy is still a good record.
The Pixies were more diverse than they’re often given credit for, and that continues with Indie, which has rougher, harsher, staccato songs like “What Goes Boom”, “Bagboy”, and “Blue Eyed Hexe”, along with sweeter sways in “Greens and Blues” (which is also Francis’ requisite alien song…), “Andro Queen”, and closer “Jamie Bravo”. Unfortunately, neither kinds stand out like the classic songs you remember (nobody’s comparing it to, say, the forgotten “Brick Is Red”). Indy is actually better when the Pixies either try to be the best band that sounds like the Pixies (“Another Toe in the Ocean”), or don’t sound like they used to at all (the darker and explosive “Snakes”).
The Pixies initially released all twelve Indie Cindy songs as three EPs, EP1, EP2, and EP3, so there’s not a lot of surprises here, but that move made sense in terms of the weight of expectations that they were facing; better to drip it out and deal with the come-down than build it up even more. And Indie Cindy means that this reunion is no longer a nostalgia cash-in, but a great band getting back to what it does best.