By Sam Orazem EBS EDITORIAL ASSISTANT
Since their reunion in 2004, Boston-based alt-rock band the Pixies have released three albums and all of those albums have sought to reproduce the magic that made them pioneers of their genre. “Beneath the Eyrie,” which debuted on Sept. 13, is the best of the trio, but it’s still a far cry from the captivating records the Boston-based band produced in the late ‘80s and early ‘90s.
For one, the reunion did not include bassist and co-vocalist Kim Deal, and her absence was easy to feel on the first two reunion albums with 2014’s “Indie Cindy” and 2016’s “Head Carrier” yielding forgettable tracks without any vocal punch. Over the course of those two albums, many die-hard fans were left feeling like the Pixies had run their course and would not find additional success sans Deal. Luckily, this latest album shows flashes of their prior greatness; furthermore, some tracks highlight the band’s embracing of Deal’s absence and charting new courses for the better.
“On Graveyard Hill” is the most Pixies-sounding entry to the album that may start to win back estranged fans with its subtle punk influence, structure that alternates between quiet and loud and a bit of the infectious energy that lead-singer Black Francis is known for. Paz Lenchantin, who joined the group in 2014, provides softer harmonies than Deal used but her powerful presence on the bass is utilized wonderfully throughout the album.
The drinking song, “This is My Fate,” is another standout. It straddles alternative and indie rock with a quick tempo that imbues it with more energy than most tracks due to its airy, haunting instrumentation. The guitar and bass are pushed to the back of the mix, once again highlighting Black Francis’ bone-cutting vocals.
“St. Nazaire” is a song that best demonstrates the band successfully moving in a new direction, a powerful, eerie ballad in a minor key that effortlessly moves through its brief 2 minute, 27 second running time. The expansive soundscape throws wave after wave of sound at the listener and continuously builds energy as it moves through structure. If the album featured more tracks like this, it would start to feel less like the Pixies are trying to replicate their former success and more like something fresh and worthwhile.
The remainder of the album mostly alternates between decent and filler entries. There is nothing egregiously bad but, similarly to their last two albums, it does feature a fair number of forgettable tracks. So, while “Beneath the Eyrie” is not the Pixies we fell in love with, it at least offers a glimmer of hope for their future.