Beneath The Eyrie
Rating: 3.5 stars out of 5
The Pixies’ streak of releases from 1987 to 1991 is one for the record books. Four albums and one EP, all released in one-year increments, all of them perfect or awfully close to it — only a few select bands of the era, The Cure and Hüsker Dü come to mind, can claim a similarly fruitful period of creative productivity. But by the time the band emerged after a decade-plus absence in 2004, their legend was bigger than their album sales ever were, creating a level of pressure that frontman Black Francis initially wasn’t interested in trying to live up to via releasing new music. Ten years later, that changed with the somewhat awkward comeback Indie Cindy and its more smoothed-out follow-up, Head Carrier.
Their second era now eclipsing their first by more than twice as many years, Pixies offer a third set of new music with Beneath The Eyrie. To their credit, they’ve still got plenty of ideas to run with, and some of their best ideas in years at that. Beneath the Eyrie is darker, less manic than its two predecessors — there are fewer songs in the vein of “Indie Cindy” and “Um Chagga Lagga,” and in their place more spacious and nuanced tracks.
That’s not to say there aren’t rockers on Eyrie; “Long Rider” has a power-chord punch that could easily pass for vintage Weezer, and “St. Nazaire” is a rare moment of untamed Black Francis bark. But this version of Pixies is at its best on songs such as the shimmering art rock of “In The Arms Of Mrs. Mark Of Cain” or the unexpectedly pretty “Silver Bullet.”
The weirdness of Doolittle or the punch of Trompe Le Monde are what made Pixies legends, but their shadow looms oppressively large. With Beneath The Eyrie, Pixies have finally found a new stride, releasing a solid effort that can breathe easily on its own.