Back in June, when Kim Deal quit Pixies, I wrote on these pages that the idea of the band recording music without her was a “hideously awful idea” and that even touring with a replacement would be “something of a desecration”. You know what, sometimes I think Black Francis doesn’t listen to a word I say, because since then they’ve announced a string of American and European live dates, a promising single ‘Bagboy’ and, today, a full four-track EP, prosaically titled ‘EP-1’, that is their first multi-track release in 22 years.
Annoyingly for me, given my predictions of doom and gloom, it’s pretty great. ‘Andro Queen’ is a spaced out joy and ‘Another Toe In The Ocean’ is good, albeit not a million miles from Frank Black’s solo stuff. ‘Indie Cindy’, the lead single accompanied by a strange, date-mugging video, is an instant classic in the old Pixies loud-quiet-loud mould. Opening with 30 seconds of deceptively standard guitar strumming it breaks into some vintage Black Francis spoken-word ranting (“You put the cock in cocktail”) before sailing into a woozy chorus (“I’m in love with your daughter”). Closer ‘What Goes Boom’ is, as the title suggests, the most furious cut on offer here.
The EP, which was recorded in Wales with Gil Norton, also comes equipped with some awesome new Ralph Steadman-esque artwork by Vaughan Oliver (see above), and another change of personnel in the liner notes: rather than new tour bassist Kim Shattuck, who it has been announced will join the band on bass and backing vocals on their upcoming tour, the place is filled for these recordings by Simon ‘Ding’ Archer, who’s played with Frank Black before as well as PJ Harvey, The Fall and his current fulltime band AAAK As Able As Kane.
We’re told this EP will be just the first in a series of mini-releases throughout the coming year. So far, they thankfully haven’t trampled on their legacy in the way I feared, but there’s still something sad about the knowledge that Deal’s voice is never going to cut through the noise. It’s time to adjust to a new era of Pixies music, and while it’ll never be what it was, there’s certainly promise in the first of these short releases. Maybe it is better that the remaining Pixies do little, rather than nothing at all.