Rating:It seems silly now that Pixies fans would have ever wanted a new album from the band after their 2004 reunion. Theirs seemed to be a story with a definite ending, rather than the open-endedness of Mission of Burma or My Bloody Valentine that have since prospered into rejuvenated recording careers. There’s a definite end to the Pixies story, one where Black Francis walks away from the band, changes his name to Frank Black and starts making intermittently interesting solo albums for the rest of his career. Truthfully, there wasn’t much point to the Pixies reuniting in the first place beyond a paycheck, and the band seemed more than content with doing that well into their two-year celebration of Doolittle’s 20th anniversary. Still, fans wanted new music, even after Kim Deal bagged on the whole thing. Even if she was still around, there isn’t much that she could have done to save the three poorly-received EPs the band has released since last fall. Her presence probably wouldn’t have made a difference on Indie Cindy either, the hastily-assembled collection of these previously-released songs that has the dubious distinction of being the first new Pixies LP since 1991.
Without Deal or anyone else to balance him out, Frank Black runs the show on Indie Cindy. For anyone who was a fan of Black’s solo work, this could be seen as a positive development; throughout his post-Pixies career, Black has been anything but predictable, and his altered perspective could theoretically take the Pixies down some thrilling musical paths. Unfortunately, that’s not what we’re getting with this re-formed version of the Pixies. Instead, Black seems content to bang out half-written tunes that sound sort of like a modern-day approximation of Pixies music once was. As a result, we get songs like “Bagboy” and “Indie Cindy,” both of which strive for that demented perspective that so characterized the best of the Pixies’ work only to fall well short and devolve into half-hearted spoken word pieces. “Bagboy” even goes so far as trying to replicate Deal’s backing vocals on the chorus, as if the suggestion of Deal’s presence might placate disappointed fans. That may sound a bit harsh, but this version of the Pixies demands a cynical perspective.
The band’s other paean to their storied past—the presence of longtime producer Gil Norton—only serves to make this mess worse. Norton may have gotten the best out of the Pixies on Doolittle and Bossanova, but the loud, compressed production job he does here brings out the worst in an already dire set of songs. He turns the already cluttered opener “What Goes Boom” into a post-grunge abomination, complete with guitars that would make Sum 41 proud. The poppier acoustic songs don’t fare much better, as Norton’s polished production only serves to make Black and Joey Santiago’s work come across as limp and lifeless. The lone exception is “Greens and Blues,” which only really works as a sort-of rewrite of Black’s own “I Heard Ramona Sing.” It’s not so much a good song as one that’s slightly above average, and that seems to be the best that this version of the Pixies can hope for.
Everything about Indie Cindy—from its haphazard inception to the underwritten songs that populate it—reeks of laziness. Granted, no one really expected greatness from the Pixies in 2014, but fans deserve something better than this. When contemporaries like Dinosaur Jr. can still put out vital, interesting records seven years into their reunion, cynical cash-grabs like Indie Cindy become even more inexcusable than they already were. It would be better, honestly, if Indie Cindy was a more shocking form of awfulness, but bland songs like “Another Toe in the Ocean” and “Blue Eyed Hexe” are too boring to even be worth getting mad about. Far from being the work of a vital innovative band, Indie Cindy is the perfect encapsulation of what the reunited Pixies have become: lifeless, directionless and utterly pointless.