The general consensus was that the Pixies new comeback album, Indie Cindy, was going to be an inevitable disappointment, due to the unreasonably high expectations of Pixies fans who have conglomerated into a cult-like crew. Not to mention the fact that the album is the first new material released by the band after a mere 23-year hiatus, a tactic we’ve seen recently from groups with similar cult followings like My Bloody Valentine. Further coloring this release were the negative feelings engendered when the band booted original memeber, bassist Kim Deal, who does not appear on this new one. And there was the minor controversy of the band recently kicking out fill-in bassist Kim Shattuck too, who’s fairly beloved herself, being the longtime leader of garage-pop band, the Muffs (who have a new album coming on Burger, by the way).
So despite the immeasurable anticipation, Indie Cindy delivers a relatively gratifying 12 track-journey that, at the least, yields some classic-sounding Pixies tunes. If you’re looking for a heartbreaking work of staggering Pixies genius, Indie Cindy may not be it. But if you’re looking to satisfy a 23-year-long craving for the Pixies’ unparalleled weirdness and alt-rock mastery, then you’ll be excited to give it a listen.
The album (a combination of recent previously released EPs) seems to be divided into two distinguishable modes: the heavier, droning rock tracks and the lighter, croonier ones, with little breathing room in between. The first track, What Goes Boom, is an almost comically chaotic tune with a searing guitar riff intro. Vocalist, founder and frontman Frank Black (better known as Black Francis) dives into some heavy, threatening vocals as his chorus drones, “make some room, what goes boom” with an aesthetic seriousness almost resembling a metal mood. This is a characteristically dramatic Pixies opening, reminding us that they can and will do whatever they want.
The track that follows, Greens and Blues, is arguably the catchiest and most successful track on the album, displaying that Pixies’ sound that we know and love without too much affected weirdness. The track boasts a ’90s alternative rock twist (we’re not complaining) and the repeating catch-phrase, “I said I’m human, but you know I lied,” a phrase typical of Black’s lyrical freakiness and tendency towards the supernatural. The chorus whines, “I’m wasting your time just talking to you,” with a self-deprecating quality also reminiscent of earlier Pixies albums. Greens And Blues is not too aggressive and not too feel-good, but the perfect second track, bringing us back to a familiar level after a first track that airs on the stranger side. Indie Cindy has a folkier twinge and the aura of an epic adventure. Black’s vocals in the verse are more like a spoken word, stream-of-consciousness shout-rant than singing, with a slightly threatening and accusatory note. He then suddenly bounces into a cool, floating, chorus about the infamous Indie Cindy with a croony, love-laced repetition of her name—a quintessential Pixies rollercoaster.
The trajectory of the album then plummets into a generally darker, more aggressive series of tracks with occasional moments of sonic relief. Songs like Bagboy return to Black’s spoken-work, beat poet-like vocals with a call and repeat chorus accompanied by loud guitar riffs and a marching, head-bumping rhythm. Silver Snail, with its droning bass and guitar, sounds like Francis and his cohorts are lurking around a dark city neigborhood in the deep hours of the night “half asleep with a loaded gun.” This track, like several others, boasts the menacing air of a crime movie, with Black’s melancholy vocals surrounded by hollow echoes and reverb. Others, like Blue Eyed Hexe, strangely consist of a heavy bass riff accompanying a half-groan, half-yell from Black and a more high-pitched, relatively simplistic chorus. The middle portion of the album is generally uncomplicated, melody-wise, with aggressive undertones developed by a ubiquitously Pixie-like emphasis on guitar and bass with moments of strange vocals and eerie feedback. Frankly (no pun intended), they don’t really care if their songs come across as weird or even creepy—they’re going to do what they want, and that willingness is why people love and respect them.
The last few tracks on the album take a more light-hearted, optimistic shift, with equally huge sounds, while returning to Frank’s airier, more “pleasant” and even love-laced vocals and lyrics. This turn marks some kind of ascension, with the same lyric-repeating, simple choruses and relatively simple twangy background guitar and percussion. Ring The Bell is marked with a little bit of reflection and nostalgia, much like Another Toe In The Ocean which seems to have implications of death paired with a strange sense of oceany calmness. The last track, Jaime Bravo, boasts a self-awareness of the album’s trajectory and narrative, Black singing, “Goodbye and goodnight” to its listeners who have trudged through the album. The epic tune conveys the impression that something great has happened, and this is our final moment to soak it all in. It’s an appropriately mysterious and over-the-top final farewell from the Pixies and Black Francis…for who knows how long this time.