Pixies - Head Carrier (Review)
Review by Jack Foley
THE second ‘post-reunion’ album from iconic band Pixies is a kick-ass collection of 12 songs that succeeds in recapturing the band’s former passion and glory.
Perhaps most significant to the album’s success is their decision to revert to their original four-piece line-up, with their female quota restored by A Perfect Circle/Zwan multi-instrumentalist Paz Lenchantin (taking the place of original member Kim Deal). Hence, the grit offered by Frank Black’s distinctly punky vocals is now neatly offset by the much sweeter refrains of Lenchantin.
This is particularly evident on tracks like Might As Well Be Gone, a smooth fusion of classic Pixies elements and something more akin to the Zwan/Smashing Pumpkins sound that Lenchantin has been more synonymous with. It’s a track coated in sunshine melody, albeit with the sense of melancholy that comes with a Pixies record.
It’s there again on Tenement Song, another favourite, which boasts a catchy central hook, some blistering guitar work and a boisterous chorus that could well appeal beyond their usual reach.
Indeed, there are – again – hints of classic Smashing Pumpkins in that chorus, while the guitar solos pack a punch and a melody that make them exhilarating. It’s an instantly gratifying track that begs out to be sung along to, courtesy of lyrics such as “hey man, it’s a tenement song”.
Anyone fearing that such descriptions mean the album is lacking in genuine punk fire will be pleased to hear that there are such moments too. Baal’s Back, for instance, is shot through with punchy, grungy guitar hooks and a screamed set of vocals by Black that sound as though his voice is on the verge of breaking.
Likewise, the punchy, frenetic Um Chhha Lagg, which comes laden with distorted vocals and wall of sound guitars.
And there’s edge in abundance in the guitars of Oona, which diverts into Nirvana territory. And yet while the guitars have a darkness, Black finds himself pleading “please, I wanna be in your band” before then lamenting: “Oh no, I will await destruction”.
There’s a nice nod to a former all-time classic in the guitar riffs of All I Think About Now, which flirt ridiculously with those on Where Is My Mind?, before hitting you with a central vocal from Lenchantin that’s utterly endearing.
The boy-girl mix on Bel Esprit, meanwhile, contributes to something genuinely melodic and even vaguely ’60s guitar-pop. There’s a central twang running throughout that evokes an altogether breezier kind of song-writing. And it’s fun, complete with a rousing guitar solo.
And album closer All The Saints taps into a sound more akin to the band’s late ’80s sound, marrying some gorgeous riffs with a sense of melancholy and despondency at the state of the world. It’s a great finish to a top album that should give Pixies fans – and newcomers – plenty of reason to celebrate.
Download picks: Might As Well Be Gone, Tenement Song, Bel Esprit, All I Think About Now, All The Saints