Somebody has a personal problem with the Pixies. Pitchfork writer Jayson Greene apparently put all his professional eggs in one basket, and now that the basket has been delivered, he’s found his eggs have gone sour.
Greene gave the new Pixies four-song release EP-1 a measly 1.0. He said it doesn’t sound enough like the Pixies, although it is. Apparently, the Pixies aren’t allowed to have aged 20 years like the rest of us. Maybe we should all judge Greene on what he was like in his 20s when he’s in his 40s. That’s fair.
From the moment Black’s bleating vocal take begins on “Andro Queen”, it’s painfully clear: There is no Pixies in this Pixies. No tension between preschool giddiness and grad-school sophistication, between finger-painting pop and Bunuel-quoting lyrics; no seesaw between playfulness and menace; no intimations of terror. There is no alien shimmer to the guitars or the vocal melodies. The cheerily plodding power chords and excruciating rhyme scheme of “Another Toe in the Ocean” recall Green Album-era Weezer, or Lit. The turgid crunch of “What Goes Boom” summons uncomfortable memories of Papa Roach covering “Gouge Away”. This music wasn’t just written or recorded without any regard to the quality of the Pixies legacy, it was done so without regard to songwriting quality at all. If one of these songs had started playing over the credits of an American Pie knockoff that never reached theaters, you would not blink.
What Greene fails to realize is that the world doesn’t need a new album from the Pixies circa 1991. That offers the world literally nothing new. The thing that makes band reunions interesting in the first place is the chance to see their interpretation of all the musical development that’s occurred in their absence. Of course it won’t sound like the old days – those days are gone and we’re not getting them back. We don’t want them back, actually. But modernity through the filter of the Pixies is something new, exciting and interesting – unless you can’t let go.
Reviewing an album against your personal expectations is the best way to find yourself disappointed. We’re sorry the Pixies didn’t go into a studio and think “What does Jayson Greene want to hear from us?” We’re sorry they let you down. But we’re not sorry they’re back in the swing of things.