Monday, 26 May 2014

''Indie Cindy'' Pixies - A Review

In many ways, this was doomed from the start. Pixies released some of the greatest alternative rock known to man throughout the late 80's and early 90's, and the magic captured inside those 4 LP's has seen the band rise to God-like status in the music industry, credited by countless bands (among them such small names as Nirvana, Radiohead and Pavement) as their reason for existence. Outside their massive impact upon the music scene itself, the Pixies fan base has steadily grown since their parting of ways in 1993, and so too has the unanimous acclaim that the band now commands upon their very mention in critics circles.

And so the question really has to be why- specifically why now, 23 years after the band bowed out with Trompe Le Monde, did Pixies feel the need to give us Indie Cindy? A gap of two decades between albums for any band is going to be problematic, but Pixies seem to have only raised more questions and eyebrows in the process of releasing their fifth effort than actually settling any stomachs about the impending arrival of new material, much less get us excited about it all. First and foremost there's the fact that this is not unheard work- the tracks that make up Cindy consist largely of 3 EP's that were released over the past year to mainly lukewarm reception, making the full album format seem almost totally unnecessary. On top of that there's the absence of co-founder Kim Deal and a frankly dodgy title thrown into the already lame mix, adding to the suspicion that this will not be a classic Pixies comeback, or even a very good album at all.

Cindy kicks off pretty well though with ''What Goes Boom'', an opener that briefly inspires hope
by bringing the heavy/soft dynamics of ''Gouge Away'' and more classics back into play, but this optimistic outlook doesn't last long. In fact, it comes crashing down with ''Greens And Blues'', an indie pop style ballad that has no rightful place in the band's catalogue. Alongside the title track, this kind of indistinct mush comes off more like a parody or cover band more than the original thing. ''Bagboy'', the first track released post reunion, isn't terribly bad but average at best, and really should have acted as an initial warning to Frank Black not to follow up on this ill advised venture.

When the band stop pussy footing around and go back to heavier roots as with ''What Goes Boom'' things improve, like with ''Magdalena 318'', another rocker the like of which the band would have done well to fill Cindy out with, rather than the slower, plod along tunes that make up the majority of the track list (I'm looking at you, ''Silver Snail'' and ''Andro Queen''). The softer side of Cindy isn't completely unbearable in small doses- ''Ring The Bell'' is a gentle surf rock tune that's pleasant on the ears, but it's impossible to escape the thought throughout this 3 minute pleaser that it could have benefited hugely from Deal's presence. But surrounding ''Bell'' on the tracklist is evidence that rocking out doesn't always work for Black and co. here either- ''Another Toe In The Ocean'' and ''Blue Eyed Hexe'' again sound like the attempt of a band to cover their former, more inspired selves with diminishing results.

As we thankfully approach the end of the album, Pixies gift us with their worst track yet in ''Snakes'', a simply amateur attempt at pop/rock that's about as forgettable as Sum 41 filler, which is a fitting description considering that it sounds the kind of material which should have ended up stuck in the middle of a lowly pop-punk album in the early 2000's. ''Jaime Bravo'' closes shop with an inoffensive wave of guitars that neither adds to nor takes away from the numbness any Pixies faithful should be feeling right about the moment Indie Cindy concludes and the band, exhausted from trying to catch up with their younger selves, gratefully bow out and exit stage.

What more is there to say about Indie Cindy? Not a whole lot that can't be heard by pressing play and exposing yourself to the shadows of Frank Black, Joey Santiago and Dave Lovering on this tired, draining return for the legendary group. Certainly there were many signs that Cindy would be a let down, and unfortunately they've proven to be so very sad but true, as the band cap their wonderful career with an unmistakable black mark. Perhaps the most depressing thing about it all is that it just didn't have to be this way- in 23 years the Pixies had done nothing but age gracefully and win generation after generation of new fans with a near flawless output. But in 2014, for reasons that will remain a mystery, Pixies have scarred themselves with an album that's many things (weak, confused, careless, miscalculated) but most of, totally and utterly pointless.


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