16 April 2014

Pixies - EP's 1, 2 & 3





Well they have been busy this year.....

These three releases represent the Pixies first studio work since they reformed in 1991 with 'Trompe le Monde' (this is if you don't count the single "Ban Thwok" or the cover of Warren Zevon's "Ain't That Pretty At All").  It also represents the first work to be released without the band's original bass player Kim Deal.  Now I was going to review these as separate blogs until I read up on their upcoming album called 'Indie Cindy' and found out that it is going to be all the songs from the EP's released on one record.  I will have a look at that under a separate review, but as the Pixies are lumping all their work in one release, I thought I would do the same with this - each will get their own separate marks at the end from the rarely used EP & Singles marking system.  Now when I first heard the Pixies way back in the day I was not that impressed, being a snotty teenager and in love with the likes of Faith No More, Therapy?, Nine Inch Nails and Nirvana (the irony is not lost on me with the last one).  However, I soon changed my tune and fell in love with their charm.  After their split I did keep up to date with their various efforts, in fact 'Teenager Of The Year' is a personal favourite (one which I have not looked at on here as it would basically be a love letter).  However upon hearing that they were doing EP's, I felt really excited about it as they had been just doing the greatest hits set for many years which it sort of uninspiring.  When band's reform, I always feel a bit sad when they don't at least try to do new music (Faith No More, System Of A Down - take note).  Anyway, the Pixies have at last released something new so how good are these releases...

EP1 starts off with the strange and swirling vocal delivery of "Andro Queen", you have a more sedate opening than you might have been expecting from the band.  It is a strange and obvious choice of opening track from one of the most famous band's to ever come out of Boston.  I cannot say that it is a brilliant opening without lying through my teeth, in fact it is one of the most disappointing songs I have heard from the Pixies by a long shot; yet I don't hate it, I'm just confused as to why it was the first track on the EP.  However, things improve on the next song "Another Toe In The Ocean".  This track (along with one from Anathema called "Untouchables Part 1") has been on heavy rotation on ATTIWLTMOWOS towers.  I am really impressed with this song as it brings together the original Pixies sound with the more subtle lyrical writing style of Teenager Of The Year.  It just makes this little dark soul brighten up each time it is on and smile like a Cheshire cat on special lemonade.  Next is the title track of the upcoming album "Indie Cindy" which is a song about the band hoping that the audience will accept their new work, as the band was very aware of their legacy which surrounds their early work and did not want to piss off their audience.  It is nice that they are concerned, but it is also good that they have thrown caution to the wind and done something.  Whilst it is not a hundred miles from where they were (I was not expecting Tibetan throat music - but you get my point), it is trying which is better than hiding in your own shadow.  Ending EP 1 is "What Goes Boom" which is another foot stomper from the band, it could have easily been taken off 'Trompe le Monde' and is a perfect ending to the EP; it leaves the audience wanting more.

EP2 was released four months later in January 2014 and starts with "Blue Eyed Hexe" sort of picks up the vibe of "What Goes Boom" by harking back to the sound of 'Trompe le Monde', especially the song "U-Mass".  According to the band it went through a lot of changes before it ended up in its finished form.  It is a much better opening track and does not feel like a band going through the motions.  Next is "Magdalena 318" which is more of the dream pop leanings of the band.  Much better than "Andro Queen" and with more of a flare for my tastes, I just find that it is a great track to keep the mood flowing.  "Greens And Blues" is next and this was deliberately written to take the place of "Gigantic" on their live set (ending their shows) - I wish I could say that it is a perfect replacement, but it is not.  It is too mellow, too subtle for that task; but as a song it is a good little number.  Ending the second EP is "Snakes" which for my money would be a much better set closer, it has a much fresher energy much like "What Goes Boom", but it comes with more subtly.  It doesn't try to bowl the audience with the first note, rather it lets the hooks sink in slowly and for me that makes it a much more important number in the greater scheme of things.

EP3 which was just released in March 2014, starts off with "Bagboy" which was first release just before the release of EP1.  When this first came out I release did not know what to make of it.  It was Pixies, but with a strange sort of hip-hop feel in places (I know it sounds weird, but we are talking about the Pixies here).  It took me a long while to figure out where it was heading as a song and now I find that it is one of the best songs that the band ever released for me.  It just has that level of crazy which I associate with the band and a fresh view on their musical world, a perfect song from them.  After this is "Silver Snail" which is another dose of the hypnotic and strange mood mayhem, that is one of the main arrows in the quiver that is this band's arsenal.  Out of all of these types of moments across all of the EP's, this is the most effective for me.  I love the work behind the song and it is shows the band have not lost any of their strange moments.  After this is "Ring My Bell" which is not quite up to the band's best strength, compared to the rest of the EP; not that it is a bad song just not as good as the rest of the work on offer here.  After this it is the final track of the trilogy of releases "Jamie Bravo", it is the most obvious ending track of the songs on offer from this EP.  It starts a bit weak but ends really strong.

So what are the overall thoughts....well, the second EP is the strongest and more fluid of the three on offer, "Another Toe In The Ocean" from the first EP is the best song on offer here and each of the EP's has its own little charm and weakness as well.  I love the individual art works for each one and that they still sound relevant today.  A lot has been made that these do not sound like the Pixies of old, for me it sounds like the Pixies due to the fact it has a different feel.  I don't want Bossnova part 2, I don't need Come On Pilgrim the sequel; it is just been a blast that they have released something new again.  Whilst none of them are earth shattering (and I would have been surprised if they were), they are still some quality releases in this format.  Now as I said, as these are being released under the album mocker of "Indie Cindy" soon, I will give that a separate review but refer back to this one.  But each of the EP's are marked as follows:

EP 1 - 4 out of 5 - This is really good, just short of perfect

Top track - Another Toe In The Ocean

EP 2 - 4 out of 5 - This is really good, just short of perfect

Top track - Snakes

EP 3 - 3 out of 5 - Decent, getting there

Top track - Bagboy

You can purchase the download of EP1 from Amazon here

You can purchase the download of EP2 from Amazon here

At the moment EP3 is not available any more, once this is changed I will update this

You can visit the Pixies website at the link

You can listen to EP1 on Spotify here

You can listen to EP2 on Spotify here

Once EP3 comes up, I will put it on here

Deezer link for EP1

Deezer link for EP2

And again, when EP3 is on out Deezer I will update here

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