Musically, 2013 has been a year of returns. Some have been incredible, some just so-so. Some that set social media on fire, and others just sort of sludged by unnoticed. MBV, Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds, Mazzy Star, Os Mutantes, David Bowie, Daft Punk, Toad the Wet Sprocket…hell, even Backstreet Boys and Justin Timberlake put out albums, some after 5, 10, or 20 years since their last release. The 90’s is like a zombie lurching from its grave, refusing to die. We just can’t shake it. In many respects, that’s a good thing. They’re all solid groups who’ve put out fantastic material. In today’s climate, anything from the above list would be welcome on the iPod. Right? It’d be like reconnecting with an old friend. The charm-factor would still be there.
Unfortunately, some bands ignite a certain spark that is impossible to sustain some 20 years on. In a rare turn of events, it pains me to say that I haven’t purchased the new EP1 from Pixies, nor will I. Frankly, it’s a little disheartening. They’re a band that’ll go down in history as game changers. Like Malcolm Gladwell’s “Outliers”, Pixies, much like the Beatles, were in the right place at the right time. They ushered in a completely new sound: not quite pop, not quite post-punk, but some violent happy-medium that didn’t sell too many records, but inspired the likes of U2, David Bowie, Radiohead, Weezer, Nirvana, and Pavement to explore new directions in the ways they played.
Rumors of a Pixies reunion came to fruition in 2004, but it wasn’t until this year that an actual EP was released. The problem? No Kim Deal. Bassist since their earliest formation, Kim and Black Francis never really got on. Strange, considering that save for Joey Santiago’s droning, spacey guitar work, their vocal chemistry was the most compelling aspect of the band. And like poor Ringo and George, she was only allowed to write a couple of songs here and there, which were damn good. Here’s one:
Point is, even without Kim’s presence, EP1 isn’t that good of a record. People expected a little more from a band that’s garnered such acclaim as genre-smashers. With a back catalogue as impressive as theirs, Pixies have seemed to sludge by with a sub-par collection that’s tired, unexciting, and blasphemously tame.
Sometimes it’s better for a band to put out a few killer releases and stop. It builds a myth around the music. It leaves people wanting more. Part of the reason for Pixies success is that they vanished just as they were picking up steam. Perhaps their biggest mistake was trying to come back. Sometimes the mystery is better. After listening to EP1, I can’t help but think that they should’ve taken a page out of the Sunday’s book and stayed home. Three great albums and out. That’s the way it’s done. That’s the way to preserve a legacy. They knew when to call it quits. Always leave them wanting more.