‘Beneath the Eyrie’ another modest rebound for Pixies

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Album cover of Pixies' "Beneath the Eyrie."

When the iconic, alternative rock band The Pixies announced a reunion after an 11-year hiatus in 2004, they were met with a clamor that built up hype for about ten years. Eventually, all of that deflated. “Indie Cindy” (2014) was a major disappointment for fans still enamored with the dynamic, quintessential piece of ’90s alt-rock that is “Doolittle.”

After touring extensively with Weezer for most of 2019, Pixies released “Beneath the Eyrie” last week.

Anchored by lead single “On Graveyard Hill,” the album takes on a gothic sound that singer Black Francis said was inspired by their church-turned-recording studio in Upstate New York. There is an all-around spookiness to it, with heavy, thumping bass-lines and references to “the witching hour.”

The album’s second, more melodic single, “Catfish Kate,” was a stand-out simply for its bizarre plot featuring a woman who is dragged into the river by a giant catfish. Its accompanying music video is a surreal animation by Krank! Collective.

“The Long Rider,” was a radio-friendly track that could have easily crept its way onto the alternative charts. It has an ear-worm hook and soaring chorus that make it as much of a pop song as “Here Comes Your Man.”

Meanwhile, “Los Surfers Muertos,” is a slow-burn of a song characterized by its use of heavy vocal reverb. It’s builds tension as it tells the tragic story of a friend of the band who died in a surfing accident.

“Beneath the Eyrie” shows a bit of a return to form for the Pixies, who became synonymous with the loud/quiet musical dynamic that they mastered on “Doolittle.” The signature style, marked by abrasive guitars and ubiquitous pop melodies, is something that bled into the ’90s and became somewhat of a reference point for just about every alt-rock band to follow.

The problem with returning to a sound the second time around is that there isn’t anything alluring about it anymore. While the Pixies do reinvent themselves a bit with a darker sound and more morbid themes, everything they are doing now still feels like classic Pixies. “Beneath the Eyrie” is consistent, arguably more so than anything else they have released since 2004, but the magic that they created in the ’80s still leaves the group in their own giant shadow.

Kati Morris can be reached at [email protected] or @neutralsoymlk on Twitter.