‘Head Carrier’ is at its best when it’s loose and unpredictable.
Label: Pixiesmusic / Play It Again Sam
Released: 30th September 2016
How much should you continue to expect from a band who have already influenced a generation of musicians, survived near fatal splits and fulfilled their potential some 15 years ago?
Pixies are that band, and despite the fact questions have been raised over their future in recent years, a certain amount of excitement and expectation still greets the announcement of each new release. ‘Head Carrier’, their upcoming sixth album, is no different.
Unsurprisingly, those hoping to find another ‘Where Is My Mind?’ buried somewhere in the track listing will inevitably be disappointed. Ironically, though, Black Francis and co. do get close to it with ‘All I Think About Now’, which opens with the suspiciously similar guitar chimes and ‘ooohs’ found on the 1988 classic.
It’s a genuinely heartfelt song written by Francis as an apology to former bassist Kim Deal after her acrimonious split from the band in 2013.The fact it’s sung by her successor, Paz Lenchantin, makes it all the more stirring and will leave a few nostalgic Pixies fans with lumps in their throats.
But ‘Head Carrier’ is at its best when it’s loose and unpredictable, like on lead single ‘Um Chagga Lagga’. The influence of producer Tom Dalgety (Royal Blood) is evident when a brute of a riff grabs you by the balls and takes you on a full throttle drive past roadside prostitutes. It’s bizarre, funny and infectious.
Unfortunately moments like this are few and far between. The widescreen rock of songs like ‘Classic Masher’ and ‘Bel Espirit’ sound ready-made for arenas but leave little else in their wake.
What ‘Head Carrier’ is then is a solid continuation of the Pixies’ revival. It’s no game-changer but then that probably comes as no surprise from a band who changed the game nearly two decades ago. Alex Thorp