Review: The Pixies avoid nostalgia trip on first new album two decades in the making

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It had to happen: In the two-plus decades following its last studio album, the Pixies turned into a touring behemoth, globe-trotting the world playing could-have-been hits to old fans, and seducing a new generation to its cubist rock glory.

The band has steadily dodged inquiries about new music, preferring to comb through its slim but mighty body of work. But with “Indie Cindy” (Pixiesmusic), the band’s first full-length studio album in 23 years released Tuesday, everything you liked about the Pixies is on display: shifting dynamics, surrealistic lyrics, sweet pop melodies, snarling rhythm guitars overlaid with a buzzing lead melody line.

Nothing here tarnishes the legacy this band has capitalized on for many years, and everything suggests a new chapter is there for the taking.

“Indy Cindy” is flush with pop candy like “Greens and Blues,” a sunny, strummed tune inflected with Black’s stinging lead guitar, or “Jamie Bravo,” a pleasant, bouncy album closer. With the absence of bassist Kim Deal, Black is an obvious star of the show, and the playfulness of his lyrics — “I’m the burghermeister of purgatory!” he cries on the title song — fits snugly with his vocals, which range from sneer-talking to ecstatic shrieks to warm crooning. The appeal of these songs is their immediate attitude and musical jettisoning that never follow a straight line.

The many years this band has logged in stadiums and across large festival stages plays into these songs as the rhythmic crunch of “Bagboy,” the guitar strut of “Blue Eyed Hexe,” and the clobbering rhythm of “Snakes,” among others, is stretched over large canvases. But nothing sounds like a nostalgia trip. Much of this band’s legacy is rooted in the soft/loud dynamic that many other bands capitalized on to great success. This new album moves beyond that signature sound, with songs that sound unkempt, but not dialed so high in volume. While the Pixies of old didn’t shy away from the rough edges, this revisiting is more confident, just a little less loud.


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