Those legendary zeitgeist-spawning inventors of the loud/soft dynamic, the Pixies, return with their second EP release in the past year
A solitary year separated each of the Pixies’ first five releases and, in the 22 years that elapsed between Trompe Le Monde and last year’s EP1, the existence of elves and fairies seemed more likely than a new record by Frank Black and his cohorts. When it arrived, out of the blue and without enough time to even steady against the rising fear of ‘what if it sucks?’, the record was received as coolly as a week old bath. But given time to judge – and let’s be honest, if it wasn’t as good as Surfer Rosa it was always going to be marred by past glories –EP1 was a fairly solid collection.
EP2 is the inventively named follow-up to last year’s EP… and it’s clear from the outset that the Pixies are a band who are enjoying themselves right now. What’s also clear is that they’re enjoying not sounding quite like themselves right now. This is hinted at in the opening moment of Blue Eyed Hexe, as you wonder what sounds so different about the Tromp Le Monde-aping sound. As the song reaches the 45-second mark that difference reveals itself to be AC/DC, as the riff careens into an Angus Young guitar roar and Black Francis’s vocal becomes a Bon Scott squeal. It’s unexpected but, after shacking the fuzz from your head, sounds surprisingly good. So enters the EP’s theme: the Pixies do others.
“It’s not until closer ‘Snakes’ that the Pixies sound like themselves”
The theme is continued with Magdalena, which sounds like the bastard love child of Soundgarden’s Head Down and Limo Wreck. Though Black Francis has said that Greens And Blues is “my attempt to come up with another song that would – musically, emotionally and psychologically – sit in the same place that Gigantic has sat,” its true spiritual brother is Foo Fighters’ Next Year. It’s not until closer Snakes that the Pixies sound truly like themselves, this despite an intro that’s equal parts Biffy Clyro and Interpol, when their signature edgy, slightly creepy, and painfully catchy approach rears its head.
Though EP2 sees the Pixies sounding somewhat different, the same was said of Bossanova and Trompe Le Monde, two records that didn’t feature a song by Kim Deal. With Deal no longer even in the band, it would be natural then that they would sound even less like the Pixies of old. And what should be remembered is that those sans-Deal records came to be regarded quite favourably by fans.
EP2 is a very decent offering from a classic band, one who are making music for the reason every band should – for themselves. The band clearly enjoys playing these songs and fans will enjoy listening to them, and though it isn’t a classic release, it’s a decent return to their creative output, with EP3 set for an April release.
Verdict: A classic act return to creative fecundity