At its best, the Boston legends' first album since 1991 is pure Pixies, even without Kim
You can’t head out on reunion tours making a killing for 10 years and not give fans new music and, in that sense, this first Pixies album since 1991’s ‘Trompe Le Monde’ is long overdue. That it’s arrived in the lumpy manner of being made up entirely of songs from three EPs that have already been released matters far less; there are no rules for how to release albums anymore and there’s no question that ‘Indie Cindy’ is an album, not a compilation. It comes complete with Gil Norton production and Vaughan Oliver artwork and it could be like the old days, expect bassist Kim Deal walked out of the band in the early moments of the Pixies recording new material at Rockfield Studios in Wales in 2012.
The Kim thing: she is missed across the album because, especially on early Pixies records, she brought a feeling that helped distinguish the band from all others in the US in the late ’80s. It’s too easy to say ‘Indie Cindy’ sounds more male and classic rock without her, but not having her in the band means that plenty of songs on here, like ‘What Goes Boom’ and ‘Another Toe In The Ocean’, could have turned up on ‘Bluefinger’/‘Svn Fngrs’-era Black Francis solo records – 2007/2008, which was when Frank Black became Black Francis again and possibly began thinking of songs with the Pixies in mind. ‘Indie Cindy’ is missing, perhaps, the tension that sprung from Kim and Francis’s fraught musical and personal relationship, but you also can’t forget that it was Kim who was holding the band back from recording new material. Her departure let Black Francis, guitarist Joey Santiago, drummer David Lovering and stand-in bassist Simon ‘Ding’ Archer loose, and, at its best, like on ‘Bagboy’, ‘Indie Cindy’ is free-sounding, adventurous and explosive.
‘Snakes’ and ‘Jaime Bravo’, which sounds like a weak indie band doing a pastiche of the Pixies, are unsurprisingly buried at the end the album, but only the most pious of their fans won’t find lots to enjoy elsewhere. Of ‘Green And Blues’, Black Francis has said he needed a new ‘Gigantic’ to close their live sets with and it’s easily the album’s most convincing moment of melodic nostalgia. ‘Magdalena 318’ is pure Pixies: cutting, deceptively understated and clever. The title track contains a key lyric – “Well, look-see what the wind washed back, as we follow the bouncing ball, they call this dance the washed-up crawl” – which is the central point: risk or not, the album had to happen, and for a band that are now ostensibly a touring entity, the measure of its songs is whether you’d want to hear them being played at, say, Field Day this summer. Slipped between their classics, they’ll do just fine.