Review Summary: Even golden suns find the end of their reign…
Seeing the Pixies live recently put Head Carrier
into a very interesting frame of reference to me. In between shouting the lyrics of “Monkey Gone to Heaven” and “Mr. Grieves,” it's hard to not notice how frustratingly lackluster songs like “Bel Esprit” and “Um Chagga Lagga” are. Maybe it’s not fair to compare classic era material with a record obviously only made for touring buzz (would it be ironic then since these tracks actively made the set less fun"), but when they played the title track you could see all the fans checking their phones or taking a comfy seat for a short break from standing and shouting - trust me, I was one of them.
But, of course, after years of aging and currently being on their 3rd bassist, who would expect anything else" Hell, its a shock that the band can even still do half-justice to songs like “Wave of Mutilation,” “River Euphrates,” and “Nimrod’s Son”. No matter how important and engaging their music has been, they, like the majority of post-comeback bands, are jaw-droppingly disappointing in the studio. Yet, this only barely explains how insufferably bland, ineffectual, insipid, and milquetoast Head Carrier
mangages to be.
I can hardly put to words how boring and apathetic every member of the band sounds in the studio. Black Francis, David Lovering, and Joey Santiago sound jaded and old, merely going through the motions of writing and recording new material, delivering songs like “Tenement Song” with all the charisma and energy of a teenage Walgreens cashier during the night shift. Paz Lenchantin, the newest bassist in the group (known for work with A Perfect Circle, The Entrance Band, Silver Jews, and Queens of the Stone Age), is the only person here who sounds like they give a single ***, but her admittedly alright performances do very little to aid the overall project. Even disregarding the lack of effort on the band’s front, a large part of Head Carrier
’s insufferability is the production and mixing from Tom Dalgety, whose muse must have been a heaping pile of slime. “Baal’s Back” and “Classic Masher” particularly are mercilessly slaughtered by Dalgety, who shaped them into a muddy, soupy mess of unthreatening fuzz.
But, did it have to be this way" Did the same band that was able to excite and engage the audience that night with classic, vibrant, important songs have
to make a mind-numbingly boring LP" While their age and recent output have made it seem impossible for a return to form, this very album contains good songs buried somewhere in “All The Saints” and “All I Think of Now ”- the latter is a surprisingly genuine apology to Kim Deal - but they are far from completely thought-out ideas. There might be a creative force left, but the dull “Oona” and the snore-inducing “Plaster of Paris” do very little to add validity to that claim. It’s a tragic sight to see a band this influential to music as a whole put such little effort and focus into a release, but, as I said, it’s hardly the exception nowadays. This is yet another bloated release drowning in its own failure created by a once tall titan.