The Pixies: Indie Cindy

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The Pixies:  Indie Cindy (2014)

Pixiesmusic/PIAS

★★★

23 years is a pretty long time to wait for anything.  The last time the Pixies recorded a full-length LP, the cool kids were still rockin’ Cavriccis and Umbros. But earlier this week, after a decade of touring on their classic material, the Pixies dropped Indie Cindy.

Let’s allay some concerns right up front. This is not Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull (Blarg. Even the title pisses me off). The Pixies have done nothing to embarrass themselves by coming back from the dead. Even with the conspicuous absence of bassist Kim Deal, whose vocal harmonies are absolutely missed, Indie Cindy hangs together.

But it doesn’t too much more than that.  There are few surprises, most especially because much of this material has been released in bits and pieces over the last few years.

The highlights are sweet enough: the mournfully ethereal “Andro Queen”; the unabashedly alt-rock title track; the skulking “Silver Snail.”

“Green and Blues” is perhaps the album’s one classic, a hook that would be comfortable on Doolittle, a pleading lyric and a backing vocal that sounds suspiciously like the band’s departed bassist.

Then there’s “Another Toe in the Ocean”, which play like a thematic sequel to the surreal scuba vignette of “Where is My Mind?” Like a lot of sequels, “Ocean” is far-removed stab at keying into the perfect emotional resonance that elevated the original. And like a lot of sequels, it comes off instead as a mildly satisfying trip down memory lane.

This is the album’s problem in a microcosm. So too, is the scarcity of the band’s trademark fury. “Blue Eyed Hexe” is one of the record’s hardest hitters, sporting a chugging, straightahead riff and a scorching Black Francis vocal with just a touch of AC/DC to it. Frankly though, seven songs deep is a long wait for the first genuine freakout on the album.

Mostly, the record is clean, hooky and nostalgic. Perhaps this is the record the Pixies should have survived to make in 1993. And perhaps if they had, it would have been a little edgier, as was the style at the time.

Instead, Indie Cindy feels like a slight album, a minor recording with a handful of filler. It sounds like the Pixies for the most part, but it sounds like the Pixies filtered through the bands they most influenced, an album after the fact. Take the amiable “Jamie Bravo,” a closing track that wraps a Smashing Pumpkins riff around a few Weezer ‘woo woos’ with just a touch of the Breeders’ quirk.

Don’t get me wrong. I wish it were still the ‘90s too. I can be perfectly happy with an album stubbornly suspended in time.

But the Pixies catalogue is perfect no more. After 23 years in the making, Indie Cindy does not fit neatly on the shelf next to an otherwise untouchable four LP discography. It doesn’t tarnish the legacy but it doesn’t add much either. Enjoy the record but don’t get your hopes up. This one won’t take you down the rabbit hole.

 

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