Pixies – Head Carrier

October brings with it the return of the iconic ‘Pixies’ releasing their sixth full length album, Head Carrier. Produced by BRIT nominated English record producer Tom Dalgety, known for his work with Royal Blood, Killing joke and Ghost. Head Carrier features The Pixies’ latest line-up featuring the original members; Frank Black on rhythm guitar and vocals, Joey Santiago on lead guitar and keyboards, David Lovering on percussion and newest addition Paz Lenchantin on bass and vocals, replacing Kim Shattuck.

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Opening track Head Carrier gives the album a strikingly distinct tone, the bass line feels like something from  Arcade Fire’s Funeral era, especially in the introduction to the song.

It’s followed by  Classic Masher,which feels similar to some late Pixies work including a bass line reminiscent of Head on from Trompe Le Monde. Its main draw is it’s melody, that places it as one of the more likeable tracks from the album.

Moving from there to their next track, Baals Back, is a strange but typically Pixies transition, going from a somewhat calm to Black Francis screaming his heart out. It feels a little out of place within Head Carrier, and is far weaker than previous shouty tracks from older albums.

Might as Well be Gone definitely has an old Pixies feel to it, sounding somewhat like Velouria from Bossa Nova in its melody and style. Even the bass line is Kim Deal-ish.

Oona, is certainly one of the albums high points, boasting a sound similar to that of a Come on Pilgrim/Surfa Rosa ergo Bone Machine. It starts off with a harmonic chanting of sorts and then breaks into a fantastic melodic guitar.

Talent is reminiscent of a classic punk track, It features a bass line and structure that felt like a Buzzcocks or The Stranglers making it a powerful contrast to some of Head Carrier’s slower content

Tenement Song is classic Pixies with a twist of their new style, and wouldn’t seem out of place within the bands Doolittle era.

Bel Esprit features Pam stepping up as lead with new backing vocalist, Francis and her working well together. She’s not quite Kim Deal but she’s great on this track nonetheless.

All I Think About Now is a reminder of some of The Pixies most iconic sounds e.g. Where is My Mind  through its  rhythm guitar and the oohing in the background. Pam performs the vocals alone and proves she’s more than capable of holding her own

Um Chagga Lagga is bursting with excitement, Frank’s vocals are strong but still feel a little forced in a  similar vein to in Baals Back.

All the Saints brings Head Carrier’s proceedings to an ending feeling surprisingly like Black Francis’ solo album material boasting some great harmonies.

Head Carrier is worth a listen despite the wealth of negative reviews that the album has initially received. There’s no denying Head Carrier’s weaker moments and it’s certainly no Doolittle but after the band have gone through such dramatic changes, both with their lineup, as well as their musical styles, how could we expect them to sound the same. If you want to hear another Pixies album that sounds exactly like Doolittle, why not simply revisit it again rather than hoping for more cloned material?

Zac Gardiner

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