Review: EP-1 by Pixies (2013)

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In keeping with their “let’s just release things when they’re fuckin’ ready” philosophy, Pixies stuck EP-1 on our internets recently, promising more to come.

We have two die-hard Pixieholics here on Off Your Shelf, so instead of fighting over it like hobos over meat it was decided that we both cover a side each. That’s a lot better, isn’t it?

Side One, by Sean

1) Andro Queen

2) Another Toe

Right from the start, Andro Queen is an unusual song in Pixieland. It’s not Gouge Away, so we’d better hate it, yes? Fuck you, Pitchfork. Fuck off back into your stupid hidey-hole of wankery.

Anyway, Andro Queen. It’s really quite pretty. Very spacesome, a little bit Bossanova II – Surfer’s Revenge. Is there a smidgen of auto-tune? Mayhaps, but it’s quite subtle and seems to be used as an artistic tool rather than to mask a lack of talent or ability. It’s certainly not as intrusive as it is on modern dancefloor smash Black Paisley.

It’s quite remarkable to have a Pixies release that doesn’t start off with a massive explosion of a song. Andro Queen is intriguing and invites you into the greater Pixiemystery that awaits within EP-1.

Another Toe is an interesting beast (and it is a beast). The rhyming progression takes a little getting used to at first, but it leads into such a stunning chorus that they could have just farted for the first 30 seconds and it would have been fine. We are treated to our first classic Joey Santiago licks on this track, masterfully underlining and enhancing without wanking all over the place like certain other guitarists might be tempted to.

Of course, when you let him loose he comes up with a great ghoulish bastard of a solo. Can you call it a solo? I’m calling it a fucking solo.

Are these songs insta-classics? No, but the Pixies have never been that way. EP-1 might take some time to sink in next to Surfer Rosa but it’ll get there. Buy it! And listen to side two, of course…

Side Two, by Holly

3) Indie Cindy

4) What Goes Boom

As a huge Pixies fan since the tender age of thirteen when a rather catchy track concerning a Japanese man driving his car over a cliff somehow managed to reach me on an existential level, I, like Sean, embraced this new EP with a happy face. Their first collection of songs in a number of years, and since the replacement of the inimitable Kim Deal with Female Bass Player Called Kim #2, a heavy sense of anticipation settles on the ears as one sits down to listen. Luckily, it doesn’t disappoint.

Indie Cindy takes its title from a term popularised by a semi-well known song by a band about as far removed from the Pixies as Meshuggah to Miley Cyrus. The good news is that the influence ends there. The song kicks off as classic Pixies, a smooth easy-going rhythm with the confident, casual lead guitar we’ve come to expect from these guys. Personally I hear a little Where is My Mind? influence touching the first half of the song.

The ‘new’ Pixies blasts into its own in the second half; fast, furious guitar licks just slightly too chaotic to be called ‘tight’, Francis’ hectic babble-singing riding over them. This works, somehow, by the quick transfer to the softly spoken, hypnotic chorus that has practically become a trademark. The song, according to Francis himself, is a direct attempt to re-seduce fans after their hiatus; suitably enough, it is comfortingly familiar while demanding that listeners stand up and take notice. And it works.

What Goes Boom, after the slow seduction, seems at first to be decidedly un-Pixies song. Squealing licks continue throughout, carrying Francis’ newfound confidence as he loudly proclaims his lyrics with an air of knowing that his seduction was successful. While the track slips past as generic rock on the first listen, subsequent attention reveals that many of the nuances and characteristics of the Pixies we’ve loved for years remain present, bold and strong. This track is just louder, more confident, slamming the band’s return to the music scene down in a way that can’t be ignored. And why would you want to?

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