Mainstream music culture has only recently begun to grasp that there was no better time for rock music than the 1990s, and the Pixies were at the forefront of that decade’s music.
While the alternative/indie pop-rock bands of today — the type that play at outdoor music festivals and cite Radiohead as an influence — are imitating the bleary angst that ’90s rock bands seemed to harness so well, some of the original noisemakers are getting back on the horse and taking the reins.
Last year, My Bloody Valentine released their first album since 1991 and this year, Slowdive surprisingly reunited just in time for 2014’s festival season.
The Pixies, a psychedelic rock band that had its heyday over 20 years ago, are no different in this respect. Although their album “Indie Cindy” released on April 29, it has been widely available through the EPs the band has been bestowing on fans throughout the past year.
The album, recorded in 2012, has consumed the band, which now consists of all the founding members minus iconic bassist Kim Deal. “Indie Cindy” is the group’s first complete musical product since 1991, when “Trompe le Monde” was released.
The album title is quintessential of the Pixies and their artistically nonsensical diction and ironic lyrics. The Pixies pulled out all of the classic stops in “Indie Cindy,” from intermittent Spanish phrases to their angsty screaming that falls back into soft and repetitive melodies. The band has even stayed true to its image, trying desperately to keep a woman on bass and backup vocals — the band has included three female bassists over the past year.
However classic the Pixies wanted to make their album feel, it is still tinged with something a bit harsher than nostalgia.
In staying true to the band’s iconic sound, the songs seem forced. The album, from the maniacal anger of “Bagboy” to the quirky despondence of “Another Toe in the Ocean,” feels as though the band knew exactly what audiences expected, and it tried hard to walk within those lines — or perhaps it just naturally fell into them.
The Pixies once offered what felt like a musical representation of meaningful chaos, and some version of this sound is still heard on the new album. Yet the passion, rawness and confusion of 1988’s “Surfer Rosa” and 1989’s “Doolittle” — for which the band is most recognized — seem to be lacking.
The album still screams the Pixies, but maybe it screams it in too orderly a fashion.
Fans of the band will be half-satisfied with the consistency of the album and half-disappointed by that very consistency. People listen to the Pixies to be shocked, appalled, cured of loneliness and to discover that there is a voice that understands listeners’ most strange and terrifying pains.
“Indie Cindy” seems more like an echo of that voice, still powerful and real, but simply not loud enough.
A version of this article appeared in the Tuesday, April 29 print edition. Blair Cannon is a contributing writer. Email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.