When a renowned band with a respected body of work reunites to create new music for the first time in decades, they're often met with collective groans and doubts that they'll ever be able to live up to their legacy.
Thankfully, the Pixies have proven that there's no need to worry. After a heyday that resulted in four revered (if not commercially successful) alternative rock albums in the late '80s and early '90s, the Pixies are creating their first new music in more than two decades, and it's good!
Three of the band's original four original members remain – Black Francis, Joey Santiago, and David Lovering – with bassist Kim Deal announcing her departure just before the band shocked the world in September by releasing EP1, their first significant body of work since 1991's Trompe le Monde.
Now they've done it again, dropping EP2 guerilla-style on January 3 by sending out a fanclub missive in the middle of the night announcing that four new tracks were up on their website and premiering the video for the tune "Blue Eyed Hexe."
"Tarnishing your legacy is a built-in risk for anyone who has a legacy or any street credibility," says frontman Francis. "[People say] 'Hey, you were really cool when you wrote your manifesto, but now you've got some success. Now you have money in the bank.' So people are more suspicious, [saying] 'Have you lost your edge, have you lost sight of your principles?'
"Those are valid cynicisms," he adds. "But there's pressure on the artist anytime you make art. You make your art and you have to decide whether you'll ask the people to pay for it. Is it good or is it gonna flop? So yeah, there's pressure but it's also part of the fun, you know?"
EP2 has already been met with tremendous critical acclaim. Tastemaking British magazine NME gave it an 8 out of 10 ranking, declaring the new tracks "eschew any attempt to recreate the breathless brutalities of 'Doolittle' or 'Surfer Rosa' and instead move Pixies boldly on."
Francis says EP2 is cut from the same cloth as EP1. "I see it as all from the same season's worth of work that we put together about a year ago in Wales," he says, referring to their U.K. recording sessions with longtime producer Gil Norton.
"Blue Eyed Hexe" is a sobering opener that features Santiago's trademark screeching guitars and Francis's best heavy-metal wail. "Magdalena" is of the surf-rock ilk, harkening back to Bossanova's shimmering melodies and bright guitar tones. "Snakes" is a rollicking romp with flamenco undertones, while "Greens and Blues" contains several memorable "loud-quiet-loud" moments that Kurt Cobain so famously ripped off.
In fact, Francis surmises it could eventually replace the Pixies' iconic tune "Gigantic" as a show closer. "There's an emotional feel of the chords," Francis explains. "I was trying to create something that was similar [to 'Gigantic'] – not trying to recreate something. I wrote it before I knew we were gonna be retiring 'Gigantic' anyway. From a lyrical point of view it was intended for that moment. Whether or not it will matriculate into that, I have no idea."
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