Record Label: Self- release
Legendary alt- rockers return via playing it safe, but there's enough to hope for a full- length here
You can't really blame Frank Black for taking it steady with the return of the Pixies, and to expect "Surfer Rosa's" maniacal genius straight from the off is ever so slightly naive. Black's solo career has seen him indulge in his own idiosyncracies since the demise of his game- changing grundge band, and given that "A Tout Le Monde" (Pixies' final full- length before their split) was the safest they'd ever played the rock game, the fact that "EP1" isn't so much of a revamped, re- energized Pixies in full crazy than a carefully trod four song work of promise shouldn't be too much of a surprise.
Nor is it a particularly bad move either. More outlandish tendencies can always be expected when dealing with Pixies, but Black and co. are warming up again, and they're running relatively fast on the tracks. Opener "Andro Queen" sees Black reveling in his love via his trademark estranged lyricism ("Andro Queen has lost her ring... Guess I'll just have to kiss her finger now") amidst a beautiful plod of atmosphere heavy guitar chords and a soulful acoustic background. "Another Toe" is disappointingly conventional, but the strong, glistening lead guitar melody in the post- chorus section revitalizes it a bit, as does the catchy riff.
The lead single "Indie Cindy" naturally took the world of Pixies fans by storm, and although it lacks vigour it encompasses some of the traits that always made Pixies such an enticing entity, with plenty of Black's weirdo, metaphorical ruminations married with Joey Santiago's creative guitar chaos. The moment that most captures their former glory though is the closer "What Goes Boom." Angular, aggressive and groove- heavy, it replicates some of their fine "Surfer Rosa"- era monstrosity, without being quite as prolific as much of that album.
It's not particularly exciting stuff by many standards. However almost all the songs on "EP1" contain glimpses and hints of the magic that Pixies once possessed. The release was limited to 5,000 copies either physically or digitally, and whilst it's not worth spending hours and pounds tracking down, it's listening that has us hoping for both more of the same but further expansion on a full- length.
Key Tracks: What Goes Boom, Andro Queen
For fans of: Yo La Tengo, Nirvana