'Head Carrier' Carries The Hopes For A Bright Pixies Future
It makes me feel quite old to think that the Pixies formed thirty years ago. Between 1988 and 1991 they released four albums including the absolute classic ‘Doolittle’. The band imploded amongst much ill feeling in 1993. But maybe time really is a healer as they reformed more than ten years later in 2004 with the original line-up of Black Francis (vocals and guitar), Joey Santiago (guitar and keyboards), Dave Lovering (drums) and Kim Deal (bass). Deal left the band before the long awaited new material surfaced on 2014’s ‘Indie Cindy’ album. She was replaced coincidentally by another Kim; Kim Shattuck. She joined the band for a European tour in 2013 but lasted less than six months. Bass duties are now undertaken by Paz Lenchantin.
The new album ‘Head Carrier’ was released on 30th September 2016. Despite a running time of less than thirty five minutes it does come across, even on the first listen, as a very good Pixies album. The songwriting is at times sublime, notably the title track, ‘Might As Well Be Gone’ and ‘Tenement Song’. ‘Oona’ is a classy earworm and I have found it difficult to lose the vocal hook “I wanna be in your band” after listening to the album three times.
Many of the albums twelve songs will almost certainly grow in stature and appeal when heard in a live environment. If ‘Classic Masher’ doesn’t become a festival anthem along with ‘Talent’ I will be a little disappointed. ‘Talent’ was the second single to be taken from the album following ‘Um Chagga Lagga’. I am not yet convinced by the latter, but maybe it’s a grower. The third single is the previously mentioned ‘Tenement Song’. Which incidentally is supported by a stunning video.
The legacy of this great and massively influential band could become a millstone for many acts. But this incarnation of the Pixies appear to handle it very well. Is it the best Pixies album ever? No it’s not, but does it stand up against the powerful back catalogue? Yes it does. In my opinion it is a fair step forward from 2014’s ‘Indie Cindy’ which I never really warmed to. That last album was maybe a six out of ten for me, whereas ‘Head Carrier’ is at least a seven and a half.
If you are already a fan of the band then you probably already own this album or are streaming it regularly. If you are not yet a fan of the band (incidentally how have you let that happen?) then this might be a way to ease yourself into the band and their previous five albums. But for those of us, like myself, who have been listening to the Pixies for many years this is far better than the output of a number of reformed bands.