Talk about a Trojan record: there we were, getting used to a life of quarterly EP treats, when suddenly it was revealed that we’d been listening to the album all along, on a covert drip feed. Sneaky eh? Especially in an age where people just don’t have the mastication muscle to devour a whole record. Or so they say.
Black Francis-watchers will already know from some recent classy solo tracks (‘Threshold Apprehension’) and darkly lit pop collaborations (Grand Duchy) that the big man’s skill with a Pixies-style tune never really went away, and so it proves with Indy Cindy. Chances are you’ve heard this album already, in fact – which just leaves me to ask: how does it all hang together?
‘What Goes Boom’ is undoubtedly a bitchin’ start: not only is it the heaviest of the new Pixies songs, but crucially it opens up into a bittersweet second half, reviving their classic trick of the excellent mid-song turnaround. Next up, ‘Greens and Blues’ is a heartfelt anthem that could’ve snuck neatly onto Surfer Rosa: it’s a convincing case that Frank, Joey and Dave are still drinking from that magic fountain.
And from here, the evidence only mounts: David Lynchian romanticism stalks the title track, ‘Magdalena 318′ echoes the moonlit highway mysteries of Bossanova, while ‘Blue Eyed Hexe’ rocks it up with some mean-ass screeching and big drum-swagger. Give it a few UFO references and you could easily mistake this record for an early ’90s Pixies effort: it’s certainly better than their 1991 parting shot Trompe Le Monde, if not quite as glow in the dark as Bossanova.
The only disappointments are ‘Bagboy’, which takes too long to get anywhere and features some shaky backing vocals reminiscent of a post Jim Morrison Doors record, and ‘Snakes’, a perfectly menacing sketch without any especially memorable motifs.
Comebacks are usually the result of ‘cleanness’ – i.e. the band have finally got themselves enough clarity and headspace to return to the studio. Thankfully, Pixies have remembered that madness, perversity and edginess are what made them great in the first place: they were always more John Waters than Ron Howard, and they’ve brought along enough smoke and mirrors to make Indie Cindy a welcome return.
The album’s official release date is set for April 28th, however, copies will be available for Record Store Day (April 19th).