Pixies – Beneath the Eyrie (Album Review)

pixies slide - Pixies - Beneath the Eyrie (Album Review)

Pixies – Beneath the Eyrie (Album Review)

pixies 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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aLfie vera mella
aLfie vera mella
[email protected]

Born in 1971, in Metro Manila, Philippines, aLfie vera mella is a healthcare worker, singer/songwriter, and editor/writer. He was the frontman of the ’90s-peaking Philippine Alternative Rock / New Wave band Half Life Half Death, which released a full-length album and several singles on Viva Records. aLfie worked at Diwa Scholastic Press as an editor/writer of academic textbooks and supplementary magazines, focusing on Science & Technology and English Grammar & Literature.In 2003, aLfie migrated to Canada; he has since been living in Winnipeg, Manitoba. He works full-time at a healthcare institution, while serving as the associate contributing editor of Filipino Journal—a local community newspaper in Winnipeg—tackling Literature, Languages, Cultures, Lifestyles, and Music.As a means to further his passion for music, he formed the band haLf man haLf eLf. He now performs with another band, The Psychedelics.aLfie has been a music journalist since the mid-’90s for various print magazines as well as websites. He began writing album reviews for CrypticRock in 2015.In 2016, aLfie published Part One (Literature & Languages and Their Cultural Significance) of his Essay Series, Can You Hear the Sound of a Falling Leaf? His next planned literary endeavor is to publish the remaining parts of the anthology and his works on Poetry, Fantasy Fiction, and Mythology.In his spare time, he enjoys reading books and listening to music. He participates at various community events; and he explores the diverse cultural beauty of Canada whenever his schedule permits it.aLfie is a doting and dedicated father to his now ten-year-old son, Evawwen.

4 Comments
  • Avatar
    Wes
    Posted at 23:09h, 15 September Reply

    While I agree this is a solid album, it doesn’t “thrill” me like Head Carrier did.

    I’m old enough to have around when Pixies were a big deal suddenly when “Doolittle” broke the mold. I’m no fan of “Bossanova,” as that one had little energy or vibe to it; a very tired-sounding record that was so clean-sounding as to be bloodless.

    “Trompe le Monde” crackled with energy, a lot more than their previous, rushed-out release. Next thing you know, side projects by Francis and Deal and tensions within the band split up a legend so many had yet to get used to being around.

    Thing is, no matter what Frank Black (and The Catholics) and The Breeders did, too many yahoos kept waiting for “the next you-know-what album from 1989.” As if that magic can ever be duplicated in its entirety. I myself haven’t heard the tracks that make up Indie Cindy; I have given Head Carrier plenty of listens since it dropped.

    Never get tired of it; it’s brief and excellent. Maybe two of twelve tracks don’t blow my skirts up, and even they have a way of sticking in my head. Now here’s Eyrie; it’s being lauded for its “spooky” sound and I’m seeing a lot of reviews like this. “Best ever since blah-blah-etc” as if Carrier was a suck-fest record, regurgitated out like stale grooves from the Taylor Swift assembly line.

    Eyrie is alright; there are several songs I’ll jam to for years I expect. But it’s lacking in the same way “Future Ruins” lags well behind “I Wasn’t Born to Lose You.” Where’s the vim and vigor? Somehow at five minutes longer than Carrier, this album feels shorter. But the power’s dimmed, noticeably.

    On Graveyard Hill, This Is My Fate, the second half of Silver Bullet, St, Nazaire (the only track that grabs you by the boo-boo firmly) and Daniel Boone’s lush and solemn tones take center stage.

    It’s a consistent recording; but hey so was Carrier front to back. And it consistenly delivers, vs. making one wait for a solid hook. To use Francis’ words, if Eyrie is six, then CARRIER IS SEVEN!

  • aLfie vera mella
    aLfie vera mella
    Posted at 16:44h, 16 September Reply

    Thank you for your very insightful and valid statements and personal asssessment about Pixies’ music, and for describing most of the albums and sharing how each came across to you.

    I could see that you emphasized ‘energy,’ which I surmised has something to do with the loudness or punkiness of the sings–correct me if I was wrong. But I understand where you are coming from.

    The way I assessed the album is primarily based on what I heard about it. I’m the type of a listener who focises on the song structures. If what triggers your excitement is the so-called energy, then mine is rooted in the complexity of the sing structures.

    I never said that Head Carrier was not good. Actually, it and the other recent releases were as good.

    The main reason I liked Beneath the Eyrie better is because of the progressive and complex quality of the songs. It’s not about the rawness nor the intensity.

    Different music listeners look for different things in music. What uplifts you may not necessarily be the same aspects that might elate others.

    Some will rather listen to Lady Gaga and Ed Sheeran than to Pixies or Vanilla Trainwreck, but that’s okay. There’s beauty in diversity.

    Ultimately, my music reviews are rooted more in the descriptive aspect of the songs themselves. I just love describing how songs sound like, then it’s up to the reader if he likes the sound or not.

    If Eyrie for you is six and Carrier seven, then I acknowledge that. After all, it is only your own opinion based on how music affects you and what qualities you look for in albums.

    I never slagged any of Pixies’ outputs. In fact, I deliberately acknowledged the classicness of the four albums of their heyday.

    I simply said that Beneath the Eyrie is the most progressive in terms of song structures as compared with the other recent releases. But I never said that Head Carrier was “a suck-fest.” That was your term.

    Also I don’t share your sentiments against Taylor Swift. I am the tyoe who don’t discriminate or ridicule music.

    I listen to perhaps everything–from Mayhem to Bieber.

    For the most part, I simply describe music based on how they sound.

  • aLfie vera mella
    aLfie vera mella
    Posted at 16:52h, 16 September Reply

    Thank you for your very insightful and valid statements and personal asssessment about Pixies’ music, and for describing most of the albums and sharing how each came across to you.

    I could see that you emphasized ‘energy,’ which I surmised has something to do with the loudness or punkiness of the songs–correct me if I was wrong. But I understand where you are coming from.

    The way I assessed the album is primarily based on what I heard about it. I’m the type of a listener who focuses on the song structures. If what triggers your excitement is the so-called energy, then mine is rooted in the complexity of the song structures.

    I never said that Head Carrier was not good. Actually, it and the other recent releases were also good in their own ways.

    The main reason I liked Beneath the Eyrie better is because of the progressive and complex quality of the songs. It’s not about the rawness nor the intensity. And this is my personal take of it. I have my own valid perspective; so do you.

    Different music listeners look for different things in music. What uplifts you may not necessarily be the same aspects that might elate others.

    Some will rather listen to Lady Gaga and Ed Sheeran than to Pixies or Vanilla Trainwreck, but that’s okay. There’s beauty in diversity.

    Ultimately, my music reviews are rooted more in the descriptive aspect of the songs themselves. I just love describing how songs sound like, then it’s up to the reader if he likes the sound or not.

    If Eyrie for you is six and Carrier seven, then I acknowledge that. After all, it is only your own opinion based on how music affects you and what qualities you look for in albums.

    I never slagged any of Pixies’ outputs. In fact, I deliberately acknowledged the classicness of the four albums of their heyday.

    I simply said that Beneath the Eyrie is the most progressive in terms of song structures as compared with the other recent releases. But I never said that Head Carrier was “a suck-fest.” That was your term.

    Also I don’t share your sentiments against Taylor Swift. I am the tyoe who don’t discriminate or ridicule music.

    I listen to perhaps everything–from Mayhem to Bieber.

    For the most part, I simply describe music based on how they sound.

    Lastly, you said that you were old enough to be there when Doolittle catapulted to popularity.

    Music knowledge should not be a competition.

    But just to let you know, I was old enough already when the then unknown Pixies fronted for The Jesus & Mary Chain in 1988.

    In fact, I was already into The Sex Pistols and Devo in 1980. And into Rush, Queen, and Bowie in the 1970s.

    Thank you.

  • aLfie vera mella
    aLfie vera mella
    Posted at 17:58h, 16 September Reply

    But don’t get me wrong, Wes. I love also Head Carrier. In fact, I just listened to it again. Now I’m on Indie Cindy.

    Yes, I think I know what you meant. Head Carrier is, indeed, in terms of style, more in line with the sound and stanza-chorus-stanza-chorus structural tendency of Pixies of old.

    Indie Cindy, on the other hand, is more shoegazey with a glaze of Hip-hop-inspired beats and vocal styling in some of its songs.

    Thank you.

    aLfie

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