Pixies – ‘Head Carrier’ Review

Delving into the murk and noise of their past, the Boston veterans’ second post-reunion album is a superlative indie rock collection

And deeper we dig into the dirt. Don’t believe the anti-hype; despite the lack of Kim Deal, Pixies’ 2014 comeback ‘Indie Cindy’ was a worthy successor to their superlative first era, with its tales of witches, sea monsters, android queens and alien lovers.

If that record seemed plucked, musically, from intergalactic radio signals beamed between 1990’s ‘Bossanova’ and 1991’s ‘Trompe Le Monde’, their second reunion album ‘Head Carrier’ treads further back, into the consecrated murk that was ‘Doolittle’ and ‘Surfer Rosa’.

Abandon hope all ye who enter here hoping that Black Francis, at 51, might recapture the sexual frenzy and devil-pact menace of those cult-inducing records, or that new producer Tom Dalgety (Royal Blood, Band Of Skulls) will emulate Gil Norton’s rusted torture chamber aesthetic.But in a cleaner, more mature, concerned-about-its-blood-pressure manner, ‘Head Carrier’ revisits Pixies’ prime, primal age, melodically pumped and squaring up confidently to its admittedly formidable forebears.

There are obvious lifts: ‘All I Think About Now’ is essentially new bassist Paz Lenchantin’s chance at her very own ‘Where Is My Mind?’ right down to the manic pixie “ooh-oooh”s, while ‘Um Chagga Lagga’ is a classic desert punk rant so indebted to ‘Isla De Encanta’ and ‘Oh My Golly!’ that the EU may well sue it for not including the required number of verses in Spanish. Otherwise, ‘Head Carrier’ applies the surf-pop sunscreen of Frank Black’s early solo albums to the simian back hair of early Pixies. So if the album’s two ‘Here Comes Your Man’s – ‘Classic Masher’ and ‘Might As Well Be Gone’ – verge on Weezer, or the Beelzebub tribute ‘Baal’s Back’ sees Francis sounding more like AC/DC’s Bon Scott than The Dark Eater Of Souls Himself, it’s merely an age-appropriate re-imagining of their early fire and brimstone brilliance. Add in sublime off-kilter grunge pop like ‘Oona’ and the title track and, casting aside the boulder of history, you’ll struggle to find a better collection of indie rock songs this year. The reunion of the century keeps on kicking.