September 6, 2013
By Jono Coote
The Pixies; without a doubt alt-rock legends, who probably influenced most of your favourite artists and helped pave the way for modern rock music as we know it. While their back catalogue is pretty much untouchable, their various reformations and gigging have however been met with mixed reactions; especially backed as it has been with no new music apart from a single song ‘Bam Thwok’ in 2004, which was to put it mildly an opinion divider. After the departure of founding member and bassist Kim Deal earlier this year, the band has surprised the naysayers by putting out first the song ‘Bagboy’ as a free download, and now an EP consisting of four new songs. This has caused a fair amount of online scepticism due to Deal’s undoubtedly integral place in the band, but this wouldn’t be the first time a group has lost an important member and gone on to put out brilliant records.
So what of EP-1? The name suggests that the band sees this as a form of starting over, something seemingly supported by the opening track and its uncharacteristic sound even for a band not known to sticking to musical formulas. ‘Andro Queen’ is definitely a song for the band’s mellower followers. The jangling surf guitar which drives the song is vintage Pixies, but the technologically mangled vocals do not do the song any justice. Following track ‘Another Toe’ is a semi-return to the jangling indie rock which the band bought to the mainstream which, although in no way a bad song, to these ears it sounds more like one of the myriad bands which the Pixies influenced than the group themselves; it is reminiscent more of Weezer than anyone else. It is on the song which the band chose to release as a video where things seem to get fully back on track. ‘Indy Cindie’ sounds like it could have been an outtake from any one of the band’s classic albums, relying on the juxtaposition of introspective moments and distorted intensity which defined their vintage sound and creating a truly hypnotising soundscape. Closing track ‘What Goes Boom’ is another prime cut, the heaviest song on the album with a driving riff overlaid with a guitar squeal which evokes those other underrated alt rock luminaries Dinosaur Jr., but still holding onto the classic Pixies’ sound as Black’s weirdly hushed vocals stand out among the distorted backing.
Looking at the whole EP, this is a hit and miss affair which shows a band still trying to find their feet again. It does, however, show that the band has life left even with the departure of Deal, and definitely shows promise for what may lie in the future. Going on the latter two songs here, a full length could well stand up to the hype it will undoubtedly generate.