What rhymes with Pixies? Fixies. Who rides fixies? Hipsters. What do hipsters generally listen to? Indie. What rhymes with indie? Cindy. And there you have the name of the first album from the Pixies in 15 years. “Indie Cindy” marks the Pixies’ first return to the studio since their awkward hiatus-meets-interim reunion period that has lasted almost 10 years. So you could say they’ve been around, but maybe not all the way there. This is also the case with “Indie Cindy” — it’s here, but it’s not all the way fleshed out.
When people think of the Pixies, many think of their quintessential indie tune “Where Is My Mind?,” complete with surfy guitar licks, vocalist Black Francis’ ruminations on the location of his brain, and a distinct lo-fi, DIY feel. Upon cueing up “Indie Cindy,” however, it’s easy to ask if Francis ever found his mind at all.
Album opener “What Goes Boom” is a mess, and not a hot mess, at that — just a mess. It’s chunky, punky, and imparted with more than your daily allotment of that genre of 80s rock ‘n’ roll aptly called “butt rock,” due to headbangers’ hair slapping against their butts. There’s a section of not entirely well-executed unusual time signatures, and Francis’ voice gets a little too raucous, a little too fast.
Fortunately, the crummy opener is redeemed by the decent second act. “Greens and Blues” is a silly tune about extraterrestrials that is much easier on the ears than the first track. This second song recalls former Pixies vibes that garnered them some attention.
But then the oscillation continues. The album’s title track is another mess that seems to want to toy with your expectations. Again, some clumsy, weird time signatures juxtaposed with standard fare indie chord progressions make for an eyebrow-raiser. Francis’ vocals move between barking speech and falsettos, made all the more fluffy by their disjointed placement in the arrangement. Minus the grimy sections of weird talk-tone, it would be a decent tune. But that’s not the way the record plays out, continuing the awkward, chunky butt rock on the subsequent “Bagboy.”
Luckily, the second half of the record is considerably better than the first. “Magdalena 318” is a solid track that finds a balance between the math-rock eclecticism which the band has tried to master on this record and Francis’ lyrics and soft voice. “Silver Snail” is noteworthy for its theoretically strange chord movement, which nonetheless works very well. It’s made all the better in its placement before the uninspired and uninspiring “Blue Eyed Hexe,” which should have been left off the album entirely.
The end of the album has some merit to it, seeming to come into its own with the mellow and surf-inspired “Ring The Bell,” thereafter the album maintains the consistent feel that is lacking in the entire first half. In the end, the Pixies have created an album that doesn’t feel cohesive, and ought to be much shorter, dropping at least four of the total 12 songs, but nonetheless has some potential to make it into certain circles of fixie-riding indie Cindys.