As indie rock royalty, the Pixies have always been synonymous with a pioneering sound that reached from the fringes to the masses.
30 years on from their debut however, the avant-garde have fallen behind. ‘Head Carrier’ is the band’s follow up to ‘Indie Cindy,’ and the second album they have released since a reunion in 2004, ended a more than decade-long hiatus.
The Pixies are talented musicians and now, more than ever have a stronger mastery of their instruments. Some songs, like ‘All I Think About Now,’ hold small glimpses of what this talented band is capable of. The group’s lead vocalist, Black Francis, does not use the same energy he put on display previously, but the voice of Paz Lenchantin, a newcomer to the Pixies, does smooth things out. The moments where her voice takes the lead are notable and worth exploring further in future releases.
Though a couple of songs are quick and punk-like, the majority share more in common with rock than modern indie music. ‘Baal’s Back’ sounds more AC/DC than previous Pixies hits. The trailblazing feel of the group seems replaced by a drive to sound more conventionally radio friendly. The band never seems to cut loose, sticking to a more rigid form.
Certain issues with the structure of the tracks become more apparent as the album plays out. Chief among these is that the group dedicates roughly a minute at the end of nearly every track to repeat the title of the song a half dozen times. These segments feel like excessive padding, though the album length would likely fall to only about 25 minutes without them.
The album does attempt to be something new, yet ‘Head Carrier’ just feels average overall, and “just average” falls short of expectations. With such a strong back catalogue, it is difficult to endorse a release whose greatest accolade is being an unremarkable album from a legendary group. With so little in the way of Pixies‘ magic to be found, the song ‘Might as Well be Gone’ should have been used as the album’s title track.
‘Head Carrier’ is out now via Pixiesmusic and PIAS.
This Pixies article was written by Justinas Staskevicius, a GIGsoup contributor. Edited by Zoe Anderson.