Alternative rock band Pixies have returned for their 6th album release with new album “Head Carrier” and the band have gone through a few changes since their previous album “Indie Cindy”. Tom Hegelty has now taken the role of Producer and was recently nominated for this year’s Brit Awards for ‘Producer of the Year’ from his work with the duo Royal Blood. This is also the first full appearance of bassist Paz Lenchantin, who replaced Kim Deal after leaving the band in 2013.
For the most part, this album stays true to their older work. Pixies have always been known to try to combine the work of Punk Rock and Surf Rock together and this album certainly shows signs of this for the most part. Despite this, the album does start off quite shaky, all things considered. The opening track which shares the same name as the album title, despite having some nice guitar riffs and a nice hook, feels a bit too simplistic and repetitive. Whilst “Classic Master” really kicks up the tempo, with louder drums and a huge step up in terms of instrumentals, it is held back by the shorter verses, which leads the song from its nice progressive rhythm to jumping right into the chorus a bit too soon.
The third song “Baals Back” sees Pixies flirting with more of a metal style, this was done representative of the meaning of the song about Black Francis being back from the dead and bringing despair into the world once he finds you.
Arriving at “Might As Well Be Gone” Pixies try to experiment not only with instrumentals but also the lyrics. The guitars in this track easily emulate vibes of something you would expect from Beetlejuice.
It is now that Pixies really begin to shine. Tracks: “Tenement Song” and “Bel Spirit” show off the vocal chemistry between Francis and Lenchantin. They bounce off each other really well and when harmonising, creates a voice which makes the vocal side blow the instrumental away.
This all takes a questionable turn for “All I Think About Now”, they noticeably borrowed heavily from their hit song “Where Is My Mind”, which can be nice for nostalgia sake… But in this instance comes across as lazy.
On the final stretch of the album comes the album’s lead single, “Um Chagga Lagga”. This song really screams surf rock and the Beach Boys vibe the band has been known for. This simplistic song would have been suitable at the beginning of the album.
The album finishes off with “All The Saints”. Instrumentally, the song is great it’s really upbeat and lively after the almost pointless “Plaster of Paris”. However, the song’s let down by its vocal execution. They feel lazily put together and the delivery could’ve been better.
“Head Carrier” is a very interesting album. It’s clearly shown that Pixies made this as a way to go back to their old roots, however along with this, they have also kept all their faults from their older albums. Instrumentally, with the exception of a few songs, it’s good. There is a lot of thought in the guitar riffs and there are some very good solos they have to offer. However, their lyrics still have that nonsensical meaning and although Pixies have been capable of delivering good vocal performances on this album, there were quite a few times where the vocal performance has fallen flat. Fans of the band will probably get a kick from this album and they do have some high points to show. However, the weird experimentations, questionable lyrics, and the occasional bland vocal deliveries really hold back the album from standing out.