September 9, 2019 Pixies – Beneath the Eyrie (Album Review)
Scheduled for release on Friday, September 13th, 2019, via BMG/Infectious, Pixies’ are set to return with their seventh oeuvre, Beneath the Eyrie.
Originally formed in 1986, in Boston, Massachusetts – by Black Francis (vocals, rhythm guitar), Joey Santiago (lead guitar), Kim Deal (bass, backing vocals), and David Lovering (drums) – to this day Pixies remain one of the pioneers and the most influential among the Alternative Rock music luminaries to ever emerge in the 1990s—the so-called golden decade of the genre. Not only the late Kurt Cobain of Nirvana (“Lithium”) cited Pixies as a major musical influence, but also David Bowie (“Valentine’s Day”), Bono of U2 (“Who’s Gonna Ride My Wild Horses?”), Radiohead (“Fake Plastic Trees”), Weezer (“Undone – The Sweater Song”), and Arcade Fire (“Rebellion [Lies]”).
In their heyday, Pixies released four seminal albums – Surfer Rosa (1988), Doolittle (1989), Bossanova (1990), and Trompe le Monde (1991) – spawning a slew of now classic singles that include “Gigantic,” “Here Comes Your Man,” “Dig for Fire,” and “Planet of Sound;” and then in 1993 they disbanded.
Pixies reunited in 2004; but it took a full decade before the group minus Deal, who was eventually replaced by Paz Lenchantin of A Perfect Circle, was able to release a proper album, 2014’s Indie Cindy. Head Carrier followed two years later, and now the new quartet is unleashing another full-length, the aforementioned Beneath the Eyrie.
So the question is, how does it stack up? Well, Beneath the Eyrie is a pleasant surprise! It is a masterful soundscape by a reinvigorated band that surfed the high tides of the 1990s’ Alternative Rock Ocean. It opens bold and big with the Progressive slant of “In the Arms of Mrs. Mark of Cain,” whose driving beat and Gothic-stylized guitar works will remind the initiated of Siouxsie & the Banshees (“Melt!”); the Progressive Rock influences of the Rush fan Lovering has come out of the fore, finally, giving Pixies an added music credibility. Following next is the Francis-Lenchantin collaborative single, “On Graveyard Hill,” whose trademark loud-quiet-loud dynamics leads the listener back to the height of Pixies mania. The ensuing “Catfish Kate” is another sonic saccharide – melodic and oozing with Pop tendencies, yet ominous and haunting at the same time.
“This Is My Fate” is a marked change of style and arrangement; its carnivalesque, Cirque du Soleil sensibilities are a breath of fresh perspective, proving that Pixies still got a gigantic bag of tricks to mutilate. On the other hand, “Ready for Love” is a slight swing to the countryside; a sweet blend of acoustic and fuzz only Pixies could pull off debasingly yet delightfully; Lenchantin’s pixie voice complements Francis’s very well. No love lost!
A bit moody and melodramatic, “Silver Bullet” showcases Santiago’s ability to turn pensive with his delicate plucks and then burst explosively with the electric guitar’s shards and splinters using the same prowess. “Long Rider” then transports the listener once again to the Pixies sound of old—back to the familiar waves of aural indignation. The slow swagger of the Lenchantin-sung “Los Surfers Muertos” is the calm before the mutilation in the form of the Punkabilly-sounding “St. Nazaire,” which exudes faint reverberations of The Cramps’ “Goo Goo Muck.”
“Bird of Prey” is a bounce and frolic in the soft side of Indie Rock—playful and carefree, echoing Lo-Fi hushes of The Raincoats (“Fairytale in the Supermarket”) and Young Marble Giants (“Colossal Youth”). Then there is the loungy drone of “Daniel Boone,” aptly preparing the listener to the full-on Alternative Folk/Country stride of the Evan Dando–Juliana Hatfield deadringer “Death Horizon”—what a perfect closer!
Beneath the Eyrie is unarguably the best output of Pixies since their resurgence. In fact, it can even stand at par with any of their quadrumvirate of iconic albums, the only advantage of which is that they were released in the 1990s. Still, Beneath the Eyrie is an immediate classic—definitely a worthy addition to Pixies’ discographic legacy. That is why Cryptic Rock gives it 5 out of 5 stars.
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