The Pixies

The Pixies Blow Up Their Planet of Sound

Brian Raftery

By Brian Raftery

on 04.25.14 in Features

Well, at least they didn’t do it for the money. Of all the complaints one could lodge at the members of the Pixies after listening to their new album — and there are many — you can’t decry Indie Cindy as a cold, callous sell-out move. There are no big-budget label deals or contractual obligations that’ll be fulfilled upon its release, and it’s certainly not some cynical stopgap intended to stoke ticket sales (the band’s semi-surprising reunion tour has been going semi-strong for ten years now). No, the motivating factor behind Indie Cindy‘s release is ostensibly pure: More than two decades since their last album, Frank Black, Joey Santiago and David Lovering finally have some new music they want you to hear — music they (ostensibly) think is pretty good.

And, if it were any other band’s name on the cover, you’d possibly agree with them. You’d listen to a track like “What Goes Boom,” with its gentle-giant screams and soft shards of guitar, or “Magdalena 318,” which has the churn and menace of an outer-space lullaby — songs that, like many of the tracks here, are perfectly hummable — and you’d think, “This sounds like a totally okay Pixies rip-off.” Then you’d never think of Indie Cindy again.

But because this is the Pixies, and because you will listen to this album multiple times, trying to find a way in, you will end up thinking about Indie Cindy a lot. You’ll wonder how Black lost his jones for thoroughly crackity, unapologetically weird lyrics, and instead wound up with bad poetry-slam one-liners like “Look out for that hot plate/ guess that’s all you got — great!” — just one of several beguilingly awful verses from the album’s title track. You’ll marvel at how much the disjointed, unpleasant “Bagboy” recreates what it’s like to stand at the center of a big-field music festival and hear three mediocre dance-rock bands playing at the same time. And you’ll wonder if songs like these are why Kim Deal split, and blame her for not doing more to prevent them.

Still, Indie Cindy won’t cause you to quit the Pixies forever. This is not a legacy-threatener like Raditude or The Phantom Menace. It’s just a strange, sad smudge upon a once-unblemished discography — a piece of space junk that somehow hurtled into the Pixies’ otherwise pristine planet of sound. Pick it up, examine it for a while, and then release back into the ground, where it will dissolve and disappear without a trace.