Review Summary: Talkin sweet about nothin' cookie, I think you're tame.
Hands up who loves the Pixies. That's what I thought; who doesn't love the Pixies?! A band that really doesn't require any introduction. Suffice it to say they pioneered the loudQUIETloud technique, Kurt Cobain admitted to ripping them off and they're partial to a bit of in band fighting. Like The Velvet Underground before them, they were never hugely popular until after their demise but their influence is felt unrelentingly throughout indie music from Radiohead to The Strokes and back again. Equal parts cacophony and bubble gum sweet, they released two seminal albums, an epic e.p. and two subsequent albums of varying quality before their acrimonious split in 1993. After touring the world for the last ten years since their 2004 reformation I guess they got bored of trotting out the old hits and the result, for better or for worse, is Indie Cindy.
The reunion album is a strange and, it seems, temperamental beast. In recent years there has been a veritable tidal wave of reunited alt rock icons reconvening to try to add to their legacy or, depending on your level of cynicism and scepticism, milk the cash cow before it finally goes dry. Of these, there has been successes (Dinosaur Jr. and My Bloody Valentine), failures (Hole), and in betweens (Jane's Addiction and The Vaselines). For the Pixies, the stakes are as high as they were for My Bloody Valentine. Both are bands that after their untimely dissolutions were elevated onto pedestals of such grandeur and mythos that reconvening for anything more than a victory lap seems an insurmountable and unenviable task. My Bloody Valentine managed to craft an album that ,while not being quite on a par with their best work, could be mentioned in the same breath as their earlier efforts without being accompanied by a derisive snort. That is the goal to which the Pixies much aspire.
One of the Pixies most appealing and engrossing qualities upon their inception was their freewheeling, unhinged character which demanded the listener's attention. They didn't ask to be listened to, they jumped and screamed in the listener's face with inhuman squeals and deranged shouts, references to obscure French films, all bound inextricably together within melodious, concise rock songs. The question is does the new record maintain this insistence and raggedly idiosyncratic confidence?
The record has its moments: Bagboy, with its unexpected synth line and stream of consciousness ranting, is suitably peculiar and infectious while Magdalena 318 is soothing and pretty with just enough quirkiness to prevent the song from becoming docile and maudlin. What Goes Boom and Blue Eyed Hexe bring the more traditional alt rock loudQUIETloud format that the Pixies of course pioneered and Black Francis even manages to channel the guttural howl of Buzz Osbourne during the refrain of What Goes Boom. Andro Queen successfully alludes to the out of space, otherworldiness of Trompe Le Monde.
Having said this, these moments and the record as a whole pales in comparison to the Pixies at the peak of their powers. None of these songs can hold a candle to Alec Eiffel or Velouria, let alone Monkey Gone To Heaven or Bone Machine. I Put My Toe In The Ocean is beyond bland. It could be any 90's alt rock band going through the predictable and stale motions. There's nothing particularly wrong with that, you'd just expect more from the Pixies. A number of other numbers on the record (Jaime Bravo, Ring The Bell) meld pleasantly but indistinctively into each other. Again, there's nothing absolutely abhorrently wrong with these contributions, they're just not terribly impressive either.
Indie Cindy is certainly not as derisively and indefensibly embarrassing as the Pitchfork review of the first two EPs that comprise two thirds of this record would have you believe, but there's certainly something missing. That indefinable quality of a band firing on all cylinders; that time in a great band's life when everything just seems to fall into place with grace and inevitability. Or maybe it's just Kim Deal.