To quote a very wise, very fictional heroin addict, “Well, at one point you’ve got it, then you lose it. And it’s gone forever—all walks of life.” The quote from Trainspotting's Sick Boy is depressingly accurate of The Pixies' latest EP.
I love The Pixies. Ever since I was a kid, their albums held a very special place with me—all of them. They were flawless. Every time I hear Doolittle I remember being 12 years old more vividly than I do waking up that morning. It’s not just nostalgia, though. All four of their albums (including the Come On Pilgrim EP) remain classics to this day. I can’t ever get tired of them; truly superb songwriting and creativity. They had a short run but their effect was insurmountable. It was without question that The Pixies went down as one of the most important—and greatest—bands in music history. Does that sound subjective as hell? Yes, it sure does. But if you’re thinking that then you probably haven’t heard any of their albums. Either that or you made the grave mistake of listening to EP1.
When I learned that founding member, bassist and backup/lead vocalist Kim Deal had left the band this past summer, it left a pit in my stomach that actually scared me. From what I know, the rest of the band wanted to continue writing new music; she did not.
For anyone that has seen the Pixies’ documentary, loudQUIETloud, you should understand exactly why they should not continue writing. It’s not because they’ve aged, or because they’ve lost all chemistry with each other, or even because they’re all frighteningly unstable, emotionally. It’s because their time together is over. Without question, I know there are people reading this that think I’m a fascist for saying an artist shouldn’t be allowed to do what they love to do. And I’m not saying they shouldn’t be allowed, I just wish The Pixies would have as much respect for their music and their fans as we do of them. Or did, in my case.
I didn’t want to give their new EP a fair chance, I really didn’t. But I knew I had to. The lack of Deal scared me to no end, but I pressed on and hit the play button. All of my fears came true. Nothing—there was nothing about EP1 that made it The Pixies. Even Frank Black’s voice was a shell of its former self. Sure, it was their style, but there wasn’t any heart, there wasn’t any quirkiness and worst of all, there wasn’t any good songwriting. I would have wholeheartedly embraced their reunion had these songs showed promise. But, instead, they’ve effectively ruined their once flawless reputation.
Basic, empty chord changes, uninteresting vocals and guitars with barely enough life to say that Joey Santiago turned his amp on. It broke my heart. I feel no joy in bashing one of my all time favorite bands, but goddammit, they really earned it with this one. Yeah, I understand I may be acting a bit dramatic (I’m a man of passion, what can I say?) but there is no way anyone can sit down and compare EP1, side by side, with any of their previous albums and say that they didn’t pull out a huge, throbbing dildo, and mercilessly fuck their loyal fans in the face.
I haven’t mentioned this before, as it is a touchy subject for me, but Black Flag has done the exact same thing this year, as well. Greg Ginn reunited the band, released a shitty new album, and ruined Black Flag’s legendary reputation. Why? Because Keith Morris (who declined to perform Ginn’s nonprofit cat benefit/Black Flag reunion show a few years back because the job didn’t pay—how very punk of him), Chuck Dukowski, Dez Cadena and Bill Stevenson formed their own version of Black Flag, simply titled FLAG, where they toured performing Black Flag songs. Was it uncool of them to tour the country to play songs written by another guy without permission? Yes. Was it worse for Ginn to release a brand new shitty album under the Black Flag moniker? According to fans and even his own brother Raymond Pettibon: Much worse.
What is it with these reunions? I’m almost glad that Captain Beefheart died before he made an atrocious comeback album. That’s not nice. I really love Captain Beefheart and I was devastated when he died. But I also loved The Pixies and Black Flag. I’m honestly afraid to hold any band in high regard now. As soon as I let my guard down Minor Threat might reunite with Billie Joe Armstrong on guitar to release A Very Punk Christmas. You just never know when something you loved since you were a kid might make their comeback album come on your back, on your face, and on your dreams.
This subject bothered me so much that I was actually not going to write about it. But I almost feel like I would be doing a disservice to these bands if I didn’t speak up. Sure, I’m insulting the holy hell out of them, but I’m doing it out of the passion that they created with their previous work. I’m angry because they were so good, yet they were somehow unsatisfied with that. They essentially hit the jackpot in Vegas, invested it for twenty years, then bet all of it on “black” and immediately lost. It’s hard to respect a band that won’t look at themselves through the eyes of their fans. Especially ones that have a gambling problem.