So the Pixies are, like, a THING, in the 2010’s, apparently: Beneath the Eyrie marks their third album in the last five years and change, lo and behold. It’s actually got a Pixies feel, too… well for folk’s sake what the he** is a Pixies FEEL? In their heyday their music ranged from surf-pop to twisted hoe-down punk and back again so they’re historically a pretty tough band to pin down stylistically, hence galvanizing some of their appeal, without question.
But there’s a dark gravity and poignancy present on Beneath the Eyrie that I noted, perhaps mistakenly, as being absent on the of course cheekily titled Indie Cindy, admittedly the last Pixies LP I had the pleasure of listening to. Part of the credit should go, I think, to Tom Dalgety, the Royal Blood and Ghost producer they accumulated for 2016’s Head Carrier and hung on to for this project, benefactor of a stout, sturdy mix full of rich but pummeling snare and some good ol’ alien-sounding guitar resonating nicely out of Joey Santiago, the band’s founding and mainstay lead axe man. Even the mid-album goof-off “Ready for Love” has a way of devolving into a pretty listenable pop song, with Black Francis sounding fairly apathetic and dry throughout (which is probably a good thing considering that he’s saying “I’m calling your bluff / I’m ready for love” and things like that) and those plastered drums bulwarking a mix that’s friendly to clean-sounding rhythm guitar and Santiago’s primordial yowl at once.
“In the Arms of Mrs. Mark of Cain” sets the tone nicely too and imbues a feeling of darkness, like a “journey to the end of the night” of Louis-Ferdinand Celine but replaced with Francis’ own feelings of alienation, turned esoteric reference and strange desire. According to Wikipedia, the album was recorded in rural upstate New York, the rustic and spooky feel being fully prevalent on this cut and “This is My Fate,” the album’s strongest track. On the latter, with the foreboding malady obviously reinforced by the title, the drums take a quirky, stomp-like rhythm, and Santiago runs wild on guitar, setting the tone and the eerie, ephemeral melody with some awesomely textural caterwaul. Francis, meantime, sounds hushed and almost in denial, as if on the influence of psychedelics or else some dark muse that’s pushed him to some new place he can barely process, though his muse, we’re thankful, tells him to go with it anyway.