It’s difficult to pin down the inherent appeal of PIXIES. They’re abrasive and idiosyncratic, off kilter and uncompromising, with Black Francis’ lyricism a veritable rabbit warren of psychedelic imagery that takes years of listening to unravel, their catalogue doesn’t even have an easy place for the uninitiated to start.
Still though, the fact remains that PIXIES are one of the most influential bands of all time, with everyone from Nirvana to Radiohead citing them as influences. While this is arguably due to the uncompromising nature of PIXIES, the fact also remains that very few bands have a back catalogue that’s as consistently good as theirs.
Fortunately, 'Beneath The Eyrie' is the perfect addition to that canon. Doing little to tarnish said consistency, it’s a record that calls to mind some of the band’s best moments, while still managing to feel fresh and exciting.
Of course, like all PIXIES albums, it takes a few listens before really taking hold (the latter half of the record feeling somewhat lacking on the first few plays). From the ominous opener ‘The Arms Of Mrs. Mark Of Cain’ it’s clear that it’s business as usual for the Boston four-Piece. The duality of wailing abrasive guitar courtesy of Joey Santiago and Black Francis’ trademark vocal setting the record’s tone perfectly.
While 'Beneath The Eyrie' might well start with a couple of heavier tracks, it’s a much poppier, or at least softer album than one might expect; the likes of ‘Catfish Kate’, ‘Bird Of Prey’ or ‘Daniel Boone’ retaining typical Pixies idiosyncrasies yet coming off as mellower in their delivery.
Arguably the strongest track on the album falls to ‘Long Rider’. Three minutes of quintessential PIXIES, it builds towards a suitably cathartic conclusion; Francis’ vocal paired with that of bassist Paz Lenchantin to create something that feels both warm yet unnerving.
Very few bands can mount a comeback in such a way that PIXIES have. Though very few bands share the same drive, tenacity, attitude and even arrogance that PIXIES harbour. While that may well deter some people that aren’t already converted, it’s this that makes the band as seminal as they are.
And though they might be mellowing in their age, that doesn’t mean to say they’ve compromised an inch, and 'Beneath The Eyrie' proves just that.
Words: Dave Beech
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