So The Pixies (a.k.a. “Brad’s favorite band”) have released their first studio album in roughly 23 years, give or take a few months. Their previous album, Trompe le Monde, arrived in September 1991. I know this because I bought it in September 1991 at a now vanished store called The Vinyl Vendor.
The Pixies were the impetus for Mixtape. The first issue, which you can buy here and here, is a love-letter to the band and its music. because even though they stopped recording/releasing new music after 1991 I never stopped listening to them. they, more than any other band, have been the soundtrack to my life for 25 years.
So here we are 23 years later. Nirvana was just inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame (minus Kurt Cobain, who’s been dead since 1994) and there’s a new Pixies album called Indie Cindy, which depending on who you read is either the Best Thing or the Worst Thing Ever because, like a Sith, the internet deals only in absolutes.
As for me, I have to admit I kind of dig it.
It’s not Doolittle or Surfer Rosa, it’s not Bossanova (my favorite Pixies album, possibly my favorite album ever as I detailed here), it’s not even Trompe le Monde. And despite the lack of a bass-player named Kim, 2/3rds Pixies is still Pixies. Right?
They didn’t have to do this — and some wish they hadn’t — but the important thing is that it’s something they had to do. Even if they knew it would be regarded as a commercial and artistic failure.
I know some would rather they stay that band who split in 93 and reunited in 2004, forever trapped in amber, playing “Where Is My Mind” and “Monkey Gone To Heaven” over and over again. To keep playing the hits that were never hits in their day, to go through the motions and “give the audience what they want”. And they could have done just that; it had proven very lucrative to them over the last decade. They were making money to a degree they never did when they were originally together. Because that’s become the measure of success in the creative biz; the money.
But when you are a musician, you have to create music. Just like a writer has to write, just like a sculptor sculpts, like an illustrator illustrates. It’s why successful actors rarely, if ever, retire. The more successful/famous/rich ones keep working despite having more money than they will ever be able to spend. Because if they’re not creating, who the hell are they?
So the Pixies — Black Francis, Joey Santiago, and Dave Lovering — recorded and released a dozen new songs and while it took several listens to get into the album’s groove, it’s grown on me. Still haven’t been able to get into “Bagboy” or “Blue Eyed Hexe” or “Magdelina”, but the tracks I like outweigh the ones I don’t, and there’s not a track on it I actively dislike.
Now like I said once before Indie Cindy is not Doolittle or Surfer Rosa but it is the Pixies. The catchy songs, the howling lyrics, the weirdness is still intact. The catchy songs are catchy, the ones that aren’t, are not. And there’s some songs I skip over, same as on every Pixies album.
The Pixies are not the same band they were in the 80s and 90s and that’s okay because we’re not the same people we were back in the 80s and 90s. Back then we were teenagers. Now we’re adults, some of whom with teenagers of our own, and some of which whose teenagers are just discovering their parents’ music on the way to discovering music of their own.
And as a creator of art myself, I can’t help but applaud the Pixies for deciding it was time to record and release new material because they had to know they’d be slammed for it and they did it anyway. And the reviews have been far from kind, though you will find a few raves amidst the pile.
So what’s my advice? Go and give Indie Cindy a spin. Download it on iTunes, or buy a copy from the band direct. You may like it, you may loath it, but if you consider yourself a fan in any way you owe it to the Pixies. Even if you only listen to it once, you’re sending them a message no matter how “good” you think Indie Cindy is;