REVIEW: PIXIES – INDIE CINDY…

Pixies - indie cindy blurred

To the uninitiated, Pixies was one of those one of a kind bands that, while they didn’t have mainstream success at first, seems to influence just about every important alternative rock band in their wake when they split up in 1993. About a decade later, the band decided to reunite and tour. Frontman Black Francis (also know in his solo career as Frank Black) had gone on record before saying he did not think putting out new music was a good idea, since whenever a band gets back together, it’s never as good as people remember it. So it was surprising when it was announced right after the re-departure of bassist/vocalist Kim Deal that the band was releasing a new EP called EP1, and later EP2. As much as I love this band, I paid it very little mind. Maybe I just wasn’t in the right mindset. Maybe I just expected it to be Frank Black. A few videos were released. I must have picked all the wrong ones. I was only mildly impressed with “Magdelina”, “Snakes” and “Andro Queen”. I may have given “Bagboy” a passing listen, but that was it.

It wasn’t until later, when I heard this would be a full length album that I became more interested. And being the collector I am, when I saw there was a limited edition CD version with a bonus live disc, I went ahead and ordered it. Only then did I go to Spotify, and given the download of EP3 I was sent when I pre-ordered Indie Cindy, I re-ordered all of the EP songs into the album setlist and gave it a proper listen. Now it sounds right. It’s kind of a shame that the first burst of songs contained the least urgency. “What Goes Boom” kicks off the album with the driving angst that I remember. Sure Kim Deal wasn’t there to counter Francis’ manic voice with her sweet counter voice. But the shades of that are still there, and the short lived bassist listed in the liner notes as Ding does a commendable job on bass. The raving loony that ranted through “Debaser” and much of Come On Pilgrim and Surfer Rosa is there on “Indie Cindy” where Francis becomes a deranged beat poet, and the screaming rage of the second half of the hard driving “Blue Eyed Hexe”. The melodies that made us sing along to the same looniness are there in “Another Toe In The Ocean” and “Greens and Blues”. It’s quite unsettling to hear some reviews that have panned the album for sounding like Weezer covering the Pixies, when Weezer *got* what the Pixies were about. Saying in one breath that this doesn’t sound like the band you loved, then in another saying it sounds like the thing you recognize about their music… hmmm. When I put this on, I’m reminded of that weird hard rocking artsy lunacy that wowed my ears all those years ago and it brings a big smile to my face.

Overall, this is a great listen. The production, provided by Gil Norton, the man who helmed the albums from Doolittle forward, is top notch. Unlike many reviewers, I do think this album stands up as a natural progression for the band. Especially considering the 21 years of music evolution that has happened since their last album Trompe le Monde. Of course some of these songs are going to be informed by some of the Frank Black solo albums. Songs like “Silver Snail” may not encapsulate what you think the Pixies should sound like, but they have not been in a time capsule for 21 years. If this were a Frank Black album, it would now be my favorite Frank Black album. Some of these new songs like “Greens and Blues”, “Blue Eyed Hexe” and “Another Toe In The Ocean” have been firmly lodged in my head for weeks and give me a reason to crank the car stereo up whenever given the chance. It is not a 100% perfect album like us longtime fans think all of their studio albums are. Look at Pitchfork’s review of their catalog.. not one of the older albums below 8.3 in their rose-tinted nostalgia and then only an insulting 2.5 on this album. You can’t compete with a memory I guess when your memory is an indie brand you stake your coolness on. But putting nostalgia aside, this is a pretty damn good album. And I keep liking it more with each listen. The songs that I originally thought weren’t as good are paced towards the end, and the tracklisting definitely makes all the difference in how these songs work. In context, those are growing on me. But then I didn’t think all of Trompe le Monde was classic at first either. In many ways I wish the EPs hadn’t been put out. This album has the drive and the crunch that made me like this band in the first place, and to me, that is what matters.

CD | MP3 | VINYL

Check out some videos from the album:

“Greens and Blues”:

“Another Toe In The Ocean”

“What Goes Boom”:

“Bagboy”

“Indie Cindy”

“Snakes”

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3 comments

  1. Anonymous · · Reply

    I’m so relieved to read a reasonable, positive review of this album. The hipster “party line” on the Pixies never fails to revolt me. That old “I like their old stuff better” indie crap that dismisses anything a band does after more than ten people discover them does such a disservice to readers that actually make their music purchases based on the buzz around an artist or album. Going into an album knowing the “cool” people. who are supposed to have good taste in music, think it’s awful, CAN actually psychologically taint your opinion. Especially with bands like the Pixies, who are creatively challenging and demand multiple spins to seep in. I remember listening to each new Pixies album thinking, on first listen, “What the hell is THAT?” then, once my brain got around what they were doing, falling in love. Thank you for attempting to balance the scales a bit and letting people know that the Pixies new album is really good and worth giving a chance.

    I’d also add that, despite the hipster mantra that “Old Pixies=Great and Frank Black Francis Solo=Bad,” Black Francis’ solo albums are also REALLY great, as well. Why people don’t realize that the “Pixies” are simply Black Francis singing Black Francis-written songs JUST like his solo albums are, is beyond me. The same guy who wrote and sang ALL those songs everyone loves so much CONTINUED to write and sing and release TONS of more albums (many with Joey Santiago playing on them, who is the SECOND biggest creative contributor to the Pixies – NOT Kim Deal) which are GREAT. If one was to cherry pick songs throughout his solo albums that have that “Pixies Vibe” everyone remembers, one could create about 5 or 6 FULL albums that would be just as good, if not BETTER, than a couple of actual Pixies albums. No kidding.

  2. Thanks for the response! I must admit I unfairly put aside Frank Black’s solo work past Teenager of the Year. I didn’t go full on into Pixies until about ’97 aside from a few songs (“Head On” was the first one I knew and even though it’s a cover it’s still one of my favorites). I would love to hear back about what the best starting point is for Frank Black to dig deeper into his solo work. And I agree, Santiago is such an irreplaceable factor in the band and there is no lack of his unique style on Indie Cindy.

  3. Anonymous · · Reply

    Hey Rob, it’s me “Anonymous ” again. I have to be honest: that’s not actually my real name. I totally understand why people kinda gave up on Black Francis’ (let’s just call him this) solo stuff AFTER “Teenager” as “Cult of Ray” SEEMS like such a different kind of album than what one wants or expects from him, especially after his first and second albums had so many of the things we loved about the Pixies in them. “Cult of Ray” actually was really the first Catholics album and the first of his straight to 2-track recorded live, no overdub albums and the songwriting is kinda “straighter,” more crafted post-punk skater kinda songs with two guitars, bass and drums, but the thing is – they’re REALLY GOOD “straighter,” more crafted post-punk skater kinda songs with two guitars, bass and drums!

    Black Francis tried (and succeeded) to experiment with many different kinds of songwriting and styles in his solo career and actually became a brilliant, subtle songsmith and a true craftsman. I can’t imagine that people who like the Pixies ONLY listen to music that sounds like the Pixies – because there really isn’t any OTHER music like that than the Pixies. Sure, other bands were inspired by them, but no one came close to doing what they did the way they did it. Other bands only incorporated aspects of the Pixies. Surely Pixies fans must like other artists who record songs in other styles and genres that Black Francis experimented with solo. I mean, alternative, alt. Country, punk, skate punk, classic rock, bar rock, Tom Waitsy stuff – and he did all them really well.

    That said, there is, as I mentioned in my first comments above, TONS of classic Pixies-like material scattered all over and throughout his solo albums, especially his 2006-to the present material after he changed his name back to Black Francis. “Bluefinger” is comprised of a bunch of songs he offered the Pixies, but they didn’t want to make a new ides album at that time (Kim was holding out) and it’s incredible to think what they could have done with those songs. It would have been a stronger album than “Indie Cindy.” It IS a stronger album than “Indie Cindy.” It filled with GRAT Pixies songs – the kind people claim they’re missing from the new one.

    To answer your question, if you have his first two solo albums, I would get “Bluefinger” and “Seven Fingers” (both from his 2006 and later period) and also “Pistolero” and “Dog In The Sand,” from 1999 – 2000. Next I’d go for “Frank Black and the Catholics”(1998) and “Show Me Your Tears” (2003). If you’re not hooked and buying the rest of his stuff, including his B-side/rarities compilations by then, I’d be surprised. Again, the Pixies are one of the greatest all-time bands and THE SAME GUY responsible for 98% of what made them great has dozens of other albums out filled with GREAT songs. Dig in, man – and enjoy.

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