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Pixies – EP-2


Where were you the first time you heard The Pixies? I remember. I was fourteen years old, in the school hall talking about music with a friend of mine. He gave me his generic MP3 device to hear this strange and wonderful thing he’d just discovered. It was Debaser. There are very few things that can conjure the feeling that came over me when I first heard Kim Deal hammer those F notes into submission. For a brief moment, I seemed to have found everything I was looking for. First love is a thing of wonder.

It’s been nearly a decade since the one-two of Surfer Rosa/Come On Pilgrim and Doolittle blew me away and now we’ve come to the group’s latest release, their second in nearly two decades, EP2.

Let’s clarify something from the get go: EP2 is a solid collection of songs. They’re good, not great, nor even very good. These 15 minutes are the sound of the band just having fun playing around. The opener ‘Blue Eyed Hexe’ is the greatest testament to this fact. The song doesn’t so much evoke the AC/DC formula as don an Angus Young schoolboy outfit and start duck walking. While it’ll never sit at the pantheon of great Pixies tracks, it’s certainly a lot of fun. The tracks ‘Snakes’ and ‘Magdalena’ feel like decent B-sides to Tromp Le Monde but are ultimately disposable. The highlight of the release however  is the rather excellent ‘Greens and Blues’. In writing this song, lead singer Frank Black said that he wished to outdo the group’s show closer – and arguably best song – ‘Gigantic’, which was written by former bassist Kim Deal. Once the recently departed Deal is evoked, the Kim-shaped hole in the sound becomes all too apparent. If the release has one killing flaw it is the absence of Deal’s rock solid and harmonious presence.

Your own view of this release is going to depend on the expectation with which you enter. If you are expecting something as faultless as Doolittle you will be sorely disappointed. But there is a question as to whether or not that expectation is an entirely fair one. Whilst the word zeitgeist is thrown around too frivolously, I think it’s fair to say that The Pixies captured it perfectly – but that was twenty five years ago . In the intervening period, nearly every variant of their format was loved, loathed and pounded into the ground mercilessly. This release, and arguably the previous EP, represent a victory lap for the band. Much like last year’s m b v which buckled under similar pressures, the late era Pixies EPs will probably never escape the shadows cast by their older counterparts. The unforgettable fire they once lit has diminished, but this doesn’t mean that there isn’t any warmth that can be taken from it. Will Murphy