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Album Review: Indie Cindy by The New Pixies (feat. Black Francis)

Scalzo's Corner

Album Review: Indie Cindy by The New Pixies (feat. Black Francis)

Chris Scalzo

 copyright pixiesmusic

copyright pixiesmusic

Pixies: Indie Cindy

GRADE: B+

First, some housekeeping.  I am an avid Black Francis/Frank Black fan.  I’ve seen him about 10 times solo or with the Catholics (and Reid Paley) and 4 times with the Pixies.  Though you may think this would bias me, I guess I’d have to say yes, but in the direction of higher expectations.   If anything, I imagine I’d be tougher on the man and his music.  Okay, that’s done.

So we’ve all had some time to digest the new album, Indie Cindy.  It’s the first album of all new* material (I’ll explain the asterisk in a bit) in 23 years.  The reviews have been mixed and I must confess I was underwhelmed when the E.P.’s first hit.  Nothing here measured up to their previous releases.  But was that true? 

Might as well dive into our asterisk.  Every song on this album was previously available.  First was Bagboy, available via free download by signing up for their site’s e-mail.  Then the songs were released four at a time via E.P.’s by download for Vol.’s 1 & 2 or limited edition vinyl as was the case with Vol. 3, though you could buy the tracks off iTunes. 

This has bothered some people, including me.  As a devoted fan, I bought the E.P.’s.  And then there was the announcement of a new album!  Such a wealth of music after such a long, dormancy period!  I couldn’t wait.  Then the reveal: it’ll be a collection of the music from the E.P.’s on one disc.  The heck?  No other tracks?  Alternate mixes?  Nothing?  And it’s the songs that I thought were mostly just ok.  (FYI, I bought the album on vinyl on Record Store Day.  To my pleasant surprise, I was greeted with a bonus mini record with the song ‘Women Of War’.  So I got that going for me, which is nice.)

Black Francis has often stated that the track listings don’t matter.  He’d demonstrate his disregard for sequencing by playing songs in alphabetical order and even arranging his first disc with ‘The Catholics’ in such a manner.  But with these new Pixies releases, that theory doesn’t apply.  Taken individually, the songs sound jumbled and unfocused.  And yet on the full Indie Cindy release, they work.  The album plays better as a whole.  It flows seamlessly from beginning to end.

Here’s the breakdown by E.P.:

 E.P. 1 Cover

E.P. 1 Cover

 E.P. One:

  1. Andro Queen
  2. Another Toe In The Ocean
  3. Indie Cindy
  4. What Goes Boom

 

 

 

 E.P. 2 Cover

E.P. 2 Cover

E.P. Two

  1. Blue Eyed Hexe
  2. Magdalena 318
  3. Greens And Blues
  4. Snakes

 

 

 

E.P. Three

 E.P. 3 Cover

E.P. 3 Cover

  1. Bagboy
  2. Silver Snail
  3. Ring The Bells
  4. Jaime Bravo

 

 

 

And here’s the full album listing:

  1. What Goes Boom
  2. Greens And Blues
  3. Indie Cindy
  4. Bagboy
  5. Magdalena 318
  6. Silver Snail
  7. Blue Hexed Hexe
  8. Ring The Bells
  9. Another Toe In The Ocean
  10. Andro Queen
  11. Snakes
  12. Jaime Bravo 

There are some standout tracks here too, and they sound even better live.  What Goes Boom (which sounds like a distant relative from Trompe Le Monde, but more likely first cousin of Bluefinger), Indie Cindy, Greens And Blues, Magdalena 318, and specifically the explosion at the 4:03 mark of Bagboy.  Some awesome stuff is there to be heard, if you’re willing to put in the effort.

And that’s the key.  You can’t compare this music to the original, classic 5 releases.  It’s possibly foolish to even consider that.  They’re a different band now and should be listened to as such.  And I’m not a member of the Kim Deal sympathizers.  The worst thing they’ve done is that atrocious ‘Bam Thwock’ she wrote for the Shrek 2 soundtrack and later released on iTunes.  Deal’s departure is not the reason the songs don’t sound like classic Pixies.  The difference is time, age, and maturity.

Indie Cindy is vintage Charles post-Pixies.  His music continues to get more esoteric and challenging.  The unusual chord structures and unique time signatures are there, as always.  Francis still manages a mean growl and some great yelps.  Joey Santiago still casually plays his guitar with all the screeches, scratches and ferocity for which you’re hoping.  And David Lovering sounds as if no time has passed at all. 

Francis’ solo work has always begged repeated listening to really capture the nuance and feel, and it’s the same case here.  Indie Cindy feels more like the natural successor to Bluefinger, Svn Fngrs and NonStopErotik, than it does Doolittle, Bossanova or Trompe.  

They’re not redefining a musical generation any more, but the Pixies are back.  They’re no longer just a band touring their greatest hits, but a writing, record-producing band.   Are they better than ever?  No.  But it is a damn fine, fun rock album.   It’s the New Pixies.  Or maybe their name should now be Black Francis and the Pixies.