"No Kim, no Deal" was my initial assessment of the new Pixies material that started to emerge in 2013. Indeed, Kim Deal was such an integral part of the outfit that had been on a recording hiatus since 1991's 'Trompe Le Monde', it was hard to imagine any new Pixies music not veering into a continuation of Black Francis' solo material under a more familiar moniker. However, despite my reservations, their new album 'Indie Cindy', which compiles the band's recent EPs, goes some way towards allaying those fears.
Bar Deal's bass - which is more than adequately covered by Simon Archer - and her distinctive harmony vocals, all the essential Pixies elements are present and correct here. Lovering's drums are like a kick to the gut, Santiago's guitars are like a slap around the face and Francis' punk preacher persona spitting street poetry is in full effect. Opening cut 'What Goes Boom' is a full-on aural assault with some of the grungiest material on the record; it's a statement of intent and announces that this isn't a trip down memory lane, rather picking up the baton wherever it was dropped. That's the surprising thing about Indie Cindy as a record; while the three preceding EPs felt like The Pixies slowly finding their feet, by compiling the material and changing the running order, it all starts to make more sense.
That doesn't necessarily mean that the weaker of the new songs are any better here. The title track 'Indie Cindy' settles into some kind of alt-rock autopilot, and 'Blue Eyed Hexe' is like a less inspired retread of 'U-Mass'. However, when nestled amongst the rest of the tracks, they become somehow less frustrating. Overall though, there's a feeling that despite Francis' at times incoherent ramblings (he seems especially fascinated by snakes, colours and tails here), the Pixies really have made a wise move to release a full-length album over more EPs.
It's also worth noting that when 'Indie Cindy' is good, it's really good. 'Bagboy' is the perfect example of the band's trademark slow-burning and occasionally explosive power with its repeated refrain of, "cover your breath, alter your speech". Francis alludes to a frustration with nameless internet criticism here, and shows that the Pixies still have something interesting to say about the world around them. Equally, there's a sense of paranoia bubbling under the surface of 'Snakes' that seems strangely contemporary. The cast of freaks and geeks that Francis populates the album with are also as compelling as ever, which helps to overcome any issues that could have arisen by compiling previously released material here.
So while it's debateable quite where 'Indie Cindy' will rank in the Pixies back catalogue for the band's faithful following, as a stand-alone record it's far from the cash-in that some may have predicted. This may be Pixies MK II, but in a similar way to My Bloody Valentine's recent return from the wilderness to the studio, there's a feeling that it's all been worth it. More than a curio and more than a compilation, 'Indie Cindy' is a legitimate attempt to move the Pixies forward, and for that it has to be applauded.
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