Pixies – Head Carrier (3 stars)

A solid return to form from the Bostonian indie-rockers

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Pixies – Head Carrier

'I met this real cool dude today / lookin' like Jack Palance / he said I wanna get through to you / and help you find your talent,' rumbles Frank Black in the opening seconds of 'Talent', and it's impossible to love a cheap excuse for a rhyme more. Pixies are back, which may be to the excitement of very few after 2014's drawn-out and meagre comeback record proper Indie Cindy. Yet this feels like the album they should have been making back then, for the most part at least deserving of a place on the shelf alongside Surfer Rosa and Doolittle.

What this means in practice, we now discover, is for the Bostonian indie-rockers to remain forever trapped in 1989, to forego maturity for cheap but loveable pop lyrics like the one quoted above, meaty guitar riffs, and Black's undying, throatily delivered enthusiasm for both. It's also, crucially, a record which retains Pixies' sense of essential femininity; bassist Paz Lenchantin (A Perfect Circle, Zwan) became the second replacement for the band's lone female co-founder Kim Deal in 2013, a few months after the latter had left to concentrate on the Breeders, and this is the record which fully integrates her as a member. Namely, that's because the charming rawness of her vocal complements Black's lead parts perfectly on tracks like the more reflective 'Bel Esprit', while she takes effective lead herself on 'All I Think About Now'.

This isn't a record to gather armies of new Pixies fans together – it feels as though their ways are set now, that if you don't know what you're expecting you've come to the wrong place – but it's comfortably one which consolidates all that they already had. In its best moments, it's pretty thrilling, from the sludgy 'Hey Hey My My'-isms of the title track to the breezy, bittersweet anthemics of 'Might As Well Be Gone' and 'Um Chagga Lagga's spiky garage rock, a welcome testimony that Pixies are at least back, two years after their first false start.

Out Fri 30 Sep, on PIAS.

Pixies

Hugely influential indie rock, now sadly minus Kim Deal.

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