Pixies – Head Carrier
Up until now, the reunited Pixies – who first got back together over a decade ago – have been pretty cautious with their new material. The series of EPs that awkwardly formed 2014’s comeback LP Indie Cindy represented a series of dips of their collective toe into the ocean, with fans still reeling from Kim Deal deciding to up sticks at the idea of returning to the studio. Head Carrier feels like a much bolder statement. The line-up feels final now, with Paz Lenchantin confirmed as Deal’s permanent replacement; her original stand-in, Kim Shattuck, was fired for the egregious offence of stage-diving, which apparently ain’t cool in Frank Black’s eyes.
On Cindy, Pixies felt as if they were painting by numbers, but the off-kilter feel of Head Carrier's title track here, as well as the furious Baal’s Back, provide compelling early evidence that Black’s still capable of sounding arresting when he cares to. Elsewhere, Talent and Tenement Song feel like throwbacks to the band’s early 90s heyday – they both take their cues from Hüsker Dü – and Um Chagga Lagga proves a satisfying foray into rockabilly-flecked punk.
In fact, that’s probably where Head Carrier ends up falling short. The sense of trepidation that Cindy was scored through with has been replaced by purpose and confidence, but there’s not enough adventure to make this truly feel like Pixies; it lacks the sense that the wheels might come off any minute. Lenchantin, for her part, holds her own, especially on All I Think About Now, but her new colleagues need to rediscover the urgency and ambition that defined their best work if they’re ever going to match it.
Listen to: Baal's Back, Um Chagga Lagga