All BS aside, we have questions to answer here:
1) “are these Pixies songs?” and 2) “are these good songs?”
Thankfully, the answer to both is “yup.”
Disclosure: I’m a life-long Pixies freak, and I was very very very skeptical about this whole thing. I loved the reunion, and was super-glad they were finally getting some bank for all their historical influence. Sure, I wanted new tunes, but if they “weren’t feelin’ it” then, hey, don’t force it. Right?
So I didn’t like “Bagboy” when it came out. To me it sounded like a blatant attempt at trying to apply the “Pixies formula,” which it probably was. Surprisingly, I’ve actually grown to like “Bagboy” a bit; I still think it’s too long and a tad forced, but it’s actually pretty catchy. Damn them Pixies.
I totally understand the bar that’s been set here: this is one heck of a legacy to live up to. What I don’t understand is the haters. This album is better than most of what’s currently out there in this, or any genre. The songs are, for the most part, smart, fun, rocking, sometimes surprising, and ultimately addictive. But because this is the (gulp) Pixies, there seems to be this crazy standard out there, that, Kim-or-no-Kim, they simply could never have lived up to.
I also understand some of the confusion over releasing the EPs, and then this “album” (with the exact same songs). But this release strategy worked perfectly for someone like me. I wasn’t that jazzed about the first EP, I liked the 2nd one (but didn’t purchase), I saw some videos and liked them, and by the time the 3rd EP came out I knew I was going to buy the album, if not out of pure “want” out of loyalty. These guys (and gal) have influenced my life so much, I can spare $9.99 even if they just fart into a mic for 45 minutes.
So I plunked, and after repeated listening most of the songs are growing on me. It’s obvious that they put a lot of thought and heart into these tunes, and it’s appreciated. I find myself dialing up Indie Cindy a lot, in fact. More than I thought I would when I initially payed the $9.99 into iTunes, like coins in the can of one of my favorite bands.
Yes. Indie Cindy is good. But, I don’t think Indie Cindy tracks that well as an album. It’s more of a collection of tunes, which is fine, because I don’t listen to many albums like that anymore, anyway (yes, I know, heresy). So, shuffled in with my other new music, most of these tracks stand out well, and almost always have me nodding along and trying to sing the harmonies. More importantly, they shuffle well with the rest of the Pixies catalog.
The production is top-notch, and if you liked the Gil Norton phase of the first Pixies run, then you’re more likely to like this. The mix, arrangement and professional polish actually helps a lot of these songs. I don’t think they could’ve gotten away with Steve Albini on this batch. So take that as you will. …for me it’s not an issue.
All the elements are there, too. The “Pixies thing” that even Kurt Cobain acknowledged ripping off. The 3/4 time. The “loud quiet loud.” The quirkily melodic guitar lines. The appropriately odd chord shuffles. The screams.
The opener “What Goes Boom” is very rockin, and very cool. A good first track.
It’s got just enough “Pixies” in it to make it seem like it could’ve gone on Trompe Le Monde. The changes are good, too, and it’s just the right length. “Another Toe In The Ocean” could’ve graced TLM, too.
“Blue Eyed Hex” is probably my least favorite song of the bunch, but I didn’t like Bossanova’s “Stormy Weather” either, and they’re very similar.
“Indie Cindy,” “Greens and Blues” and “Magdalena 318” could’ve easily been on Bossanova (my personal dark horse favorite Pixies album). They’re all velvety and meandering and sinewy and wonderful, and no surprise that these are the three most popular tracks.
“Ring the Bell” and “Jaime Bravo” are just bouncy poppy wonderful little tunes. Not exactly classic Pixies, maybe, but Pixies nonetheless.
“Snakes” is pretty different, but a great rock song. Reminds me of They Might Be Giants in a way, which is not a bad thing.
“Silver Snail” and “Andro Queen” are droners, but nice in that way.
But, alas, no Kim. Duh.
Look. I think a lot of the Haters forget that 99.9% of the original Pixies songs were Black Francis’ songs. Kim only had “Gigantic” (and “Into the White” if that counts). Sure, back in the day, we all wished Kim had had more of an overt contribution per album (like Spiral Stairs in Pavement, etc). But Doolittle was very Kim-heavy, even though none of those were “her” songs, because her backing vox were strong on pretty much every tack. We easily forget that she was relegated to the fringes on Bossanova and even more so on TLM.
That said, let’s be honest here: many of these tracks could’ve used her. For background vocals, at the very least. And, honestly, it would’ve been easy to do. I really don’t know why they just didn’t make that happen (yes, yes, I know she “left” the rehearsals and the band, and it sucked and was a bummer and such). But they really should’ve just taken these finished songs, just as they are now, and driven a portable studio to her house and begged her to sing a sprinkling of backing vox on 10-out-of-12 of these tracks. It would’ve added that magical “something” that a lot of people seem to be missing. That magic that made, say, “Velouria” so awesome… where she merely sang the letters at the end of the song. How hard is that?
But she’s not here, and it is what it is.
I’ll put this review in plain terms, so everyone can understand it:
Indie Cindy is a collection of Pixies songs. As a whole, it’s better than Trompe Le Monde. But not better than Bossanova. The songs just aren’t in the same vein as Doolittle, or Surfer Rosa / Come on Pilgrim, but that’s okay. The Pixies weren’t the same after Doolittle, either, and I have a feeling some of the same people bitching about Indie Cindy bitched about Bossanova and Trompe Le Monde when they came out. Or maybe they weren’t born yet?
To me, these songs seem like a legitimate, honest continuation of where they left off in the mid 90’s. And that’s pretty cool.
TLDR; Indie Cindy is a pleasant surprise. Kim’s absence is certainly noticed, but this collection of songs is way better than it has any right to be.