Pixies were one of the most influential bands in the alternative rock scene. They popularised the extreme dynamic and stop-start timing that would become widespread later in alternative rock. During the ’80s, they rode at the front of the pack of bands that were marching in to dominate the popular scene during that era. Their influence didn’t stop there. They were part of the group to shape the indie-rock scene and paved the way for numerous modern bands like Radiohead, The Strokes and Weezer. Kurt Cobain even cited that he tried to emulate the Pixies when writing “Smells Like Teen Spirit”. The band shaped a new era of rock music and then vanished off the face of the map until they reunited in 2004. 23 years after the legendary Trompe Le Monde, they’ve decided to release a brand new album entitled Indie Cindy.
Pixies have always been known for what can only be described as the illicit love child of surf rock and punk rock. Their music has extreme dynamic shifts where it can go from being loud to being soft, depending on their mood. A good way to describe it would be rock ‘n roll played by an ADHD kid hyped up on caffeine and sugar. It is all over the place and is characterised by Black Francis’ blistering lyrics and hair-raising caterwauls. 23 years later, you’d expect their sound to change because age sort of does that to bands. Well, besides the departure of Kim Deals’ whispering vocals and raspy bass lines, nothing else has changed. Indie Cindy easily sounds like it could have followed straight after Trompe Le Monde. It is refreshing in a way because it shows you just how timeless the band’s music is. They’re able to retain their musical sound after 23 years. That deserves some major kudos, as most bands tend to reunite and then release music that sounds totally different – and often worse – compared to their older music.
Pixies kick off Indie Cindy with a boom with the track “What Goes Boom” (Please forgive me for the pun). It is an utterly aggressive and nostalgic song as it takes you back 23 years to that punk sound that the Pixies threw down in Trompe Le Monde. It has a blistering energy to it as Francis snarls the lyrics “Make some room / What goes boom?” The album then progresses into the mellower “Greens and Blues” which is more reminiscent on that old surf rock sound that the Pixies so often favoured. Piercing guitar riffs burst through the mellow acoustic strumming while the bass steadily hums in the background.
The title track “Indie Cindy” is one of those typical Pixies surf rock infused with punk rock melodies. Francis spews blistering lyrics about the father of a character who, for all intents and purposes, shall be called Indie Cindy. The track sticks to Pixies’ crazed dynamic as they progress from erratic punk rock guitar riffs to mellow surf rock strumming. This is further reinforced by the shift from Francis’ blistering vocals to his more reserved and melodic vocals.
The next track “Bagboy” sees the Pixies’ strangeness revitalised as Francis opts for spoken word vocals for the main parts of the track and practically chants the chorus as well. This is all backed up by the backing whine of guitar and bass and a very mellow drum section.
“Magdalena” is one of those typical indie rock ballads backed up my heavy bass lines and distorted guitar riffs. Francis’ vocals resort back to being more melodic and are often backed up by Lenchantin’s “oohs”. “Silver Snail” is typical Pixies with an abrasive and soaring instrumental while Francis spews nonsensical tongue-in-cheek lyrics like “Silver spoons for my silver snails/ Black harpoons for the killer whale / I am the silver snail.” It makes you think back to all the other nonsense he used to write about. “Blue Eyed Hexe” is a loud and abrasive rock ‘n roll track. It sounds like what would happen if Def Leppard was comprised of only ADHD kids. The guitar riffs jump all over the place while Francis’ vocals take on that typical ’80s rock ‘n roll sound and he even erupts into screaming at one stage. “Blue Eyed Hexe” captures the energy of the band performing live and imbues it into the track.
The remaining tracks on Indie Cindy preserve the erratic indie rock sound of the Pixies while allowing the listener to realise how 23 years ago, this sound would create an entirely new wave of indie rock bands. You can hear how the soaring guitar riffs would creep into The Strokes‘ earlier work or how the massive bass riffs would lay down the foundation for Manchester Orchestra’s success – especially the sound of their recent album Cope.
The Pixies have released an album that is intensively retrospective. Indie Cindy makes you sit back and realise just how much this band has influenced music in the past 23 years. Their abrasive take on alternative rock paved the way for grunge and influenced the post-90s wave of indie rock bands. The influence of the Pixies still resonates today with numerous bands incorporating a similar erratic music dynamic. They shaped the face of alternative rock and indie rock and now they come back into a scene that looks totally different. They then release an album that sounds like their old stuff and you are hit with an instant dose of nostalgia while you look back on the evolution of the modern rock scene. 23 years of age looks good on the Pixies as they lay down tracks that sound like they’re coming from artists in their early 20s.