Don’t Call It a Comeback
The Pixies are a band with a huge, looming reputation—they’re one of the most loved bands to come out of the late ‘80s and early ‘90s—and their fans await their work with equally huge expectations, especially since they haven’t released a full-length record since 1991’s Trompe le Monde. But even considering this album isolated from the Pixies’ previous material, as its own product of a new decade and a new lineup (as the band is now minus former bassist Kim Deal and plus Paz Lenchantin), it sadly disappoints.
Indie Cindy contains material entirely culled from the Pixies’ recent EP releases from 2013 and 2014, imaginatively titled EP1, EP2, and EP3—so there’s nothing surprising here. The same problems that confronted the EPs apply here: Indie Cindy is uneven and incoherent at times, flitting between styles and genres without offering anything new or creative. The album begins with “What Goes Boom” from EP1, with its loud, raunchy guitar ready to immediately assault your ears with churning riffs and gritty vocals. It’s the least tame track on the album, though it does have a more melodic chorus that goes away all too quickly.
Other tracks split off in entirely different directions. “Greens and Blues,” from EP2, is much more listenable, with a sunny melody and smooth vocals. It offers a chance for the Pixies to mellow out after “What Goes Boom,” giving something that’s very approachable, almost poppy and perfectly nice, but just not that interesting or innovative.
The hooky, radio-ready “Another Toe in the Ocean” and “Ring the Bell” both fall in much the same over-the-hill-pop-star vein, while the title track, “Indie Cindy,” flies off into a sort of pseudo-alt-country sound, with a twangy riff that morphs back and forth into a spitting, angsty chorus and prowling guitars. And “Blue Eyed Hexe,” from the second EP, sounds very much like AC/DC or other old-school classic rock, with big, distorted guitars, cowbell, and grating, screaming vocals from frontman Francis Black. The real outlier is the strange, dreamy “Andro Queen,” which sticks out on Indie Cindy, just as it did on EP1 last year: a bizarre tale of an alien romance littered with lyrics in Esperanto.
Indie Cindy is really a patchwork record, cobbled together from disparate pieces into a lumpy conglomerate of different styles and sounds. And while this approach isn’t inherently bad, it certainly doesn’t result in anything memorable for the Pixies—listen to the bland “Jaime Bravo,” for instance. Trying fresh, new instrumentation is great, and it’s a good way for a band that’s essentially been on hiatus for more than two decades to make a comeback into a changed musical landscape. But what the Pixies do on Indie Cindy is simply a disorganized, somewhat sloppy re-entry into the music world—and it just doesn’t live up to their reputation or talent, or their many years of musicianship.