The Pixies, a cult alternative rock band, are set to release their sixth album, “Head Carrier,” at the end of the month. This record comes relatively hot on the heels of their previous comeback album, 2014’s “Indie Cindy” which was their first album since 1991’s “Trompe le Monde.”
The group, formed in 1986 and led by the eccentric Black Francis, quickly captured the attention of college rock stations everywhere with their distinct sound, a sort of calculated madness driven by Francis’ surrealistic, Buñuel-inspired lyricism and knack for effortlessly catchy pop songwriting.
Their first two efforts, 1988’s “Surfer Rosa” and its 1989 follow-up, “Doolittle,” are revered staples of the alternative rock canon, appearing on many “greatest albums of all time” lists. Tunes such as “Where is My Mind?,” “Debaser” and “Here Comes Your Man” can regularly be heard on rock radio.
Fans and rock purists were less than kind to “Indie Cindy,” however. The most common complaint is that it lacked the vibrancy and unique songwriting craft that made their late-1980’s records so special. This lukewarm reception has many followers of the band wary of their current sans Kim Deal lineup and its potential, doubtful that they will ever reach the heights of “Surfer Rosa” or “Doolittle” again.
The first single released from “Head Carrier,” “Um Chagga Lagga,” is loud, brash, unpretentious and a lot of fun, much like classic old-fashioned Pixies. Black Francis delivers a menacing pseudo-rockabilly snarl amid chugging, gritty guitars and call-and-response vocals from Paz Lenchantin, the bassist who replaced Kim Deal.
“Talent,” released in August, is a punchy, poppy affair that sounds like the Strokes playing Buzzcocks covers. Finally, “Tenement Song” is a somewhat melancholy, mid-tempo rocker that, frankly, sounds unlike anything else in the band’s catalog.
Overall, the record seems to not be a return to form for The Pixies, but rather a step in an interesting (if a bit tamer) new direction.
“Head Carrier” releases Sept. 30.