By: Jason Smith ~Staff Writer~
If I have one regret in life, it is that I didn’t listen to the Pixies in high school. During my high school years, I was more into The Black Crowes and Jimi Hendrix. My music tastes were pretty much locked in for the next 10 years or so.
However, one day I remember hearing the song “Debaser,” and I immediately had to purchase every Pixies album I could get my hands on. The purest form of The Pixies is comprised of Black Francis, Joey Santiago, Kim Deal and David Lovering. That was the band in the beginning days. Time and departures have shifted that. If you’re a fan, you should be happy that Francis and Santiago are still in the band.
Head Carrier, the Pixies’ latest album, is no Doolitle or Trompe Le Monde. It sounds more like the solo material Francis put out a while ago, but now with full Pixies backing. The album has the mood and feel of a classic Pixies record, and it only clocks in at 33 minutes, which is pretty nice.
One thing I’ve always loved is the brevity of Francis’ lyrics. He can say in three minutes what takes Bob Dylan seven. Pixies’ lyrics have always been strange and beautiful, the guitar always jangly, the songs always short. These are constants that make them who they are. Kurt Cobain once said that while he was making Nevermind, he was trying to make a Pixies record. Listening to Head Carrier, I wonder if the Pixies could try that, too.
Not that Head Carrier isn’t a good listen, but some bands are better left broken up. This is a serviceable Pixies record. I like “Tenement,” which could be considered classic Pixies. “All I Think About Now” begins in a very “Where Is My Mind?” fashion but isn’t anywhere near the original song. Same goes for “Um Chagga Lagga,” which is a Pixies song tried and true.
The Pixies will always be a band whose place in the rock pantheon will be confirmed. There’s no denying they were a band that paved the way for so many artists. They are still a great band, but I’m just not sure that Head Carrier is a good representation of that.