As mentioned in my previous post, 2014 heralds the release of Pixies’ first LP in over two decades, and I can’t pretend I’m not excited. A few tracks osmosised via 6Music and thru the hubbub of my works kitchen aside, I’ve assiduously avoided hearing anything from the new record, though: I haven’t even dragged the download of EP3 that came bundled with my advance purchase of the all-singing, all-dancing special edition out of the download box into my media library.
Why? The closing clause in this Steven Hyden article for Grantland, sums it up neatly enough ‘…because my [anticipated] disappointment in what they’ve become has more to do with me than with them.’ The same might be said of the second Star Wars trilogy, or my assessment – see also my previous post – of the last Opeth album. Hot on the heels of the realization that George Lucas/Pixies/Opeth are not the same people today that they were when they recorded their most treasured artifacts comes the secondary one that we are not the same people either. This makes for a complicated, fragmented relationship with our favoured artists’ ever-expanding catalogs of work, tainted by nostalgia and changing expectations.
When Hyden writes ‘I would guess that before the Pixies’ reunion in 2004 (and the subsequent run of endless tours in the decade since), the majority of the group’s fans had never seen them live. Much of the Pixies’ fan base got into the band after it broke up in 1993.’ he could be writing about me, or as good as: I ‘discovered’ the Pixies around the time Trompe Le Monde was released.
‘If all that mattered were the music, I wouldn’t even bother writing about Indie Cindy. It is thoroughly pedestrian, exceptionally unexceptional, and spectacularly slight. But I am writing about Indie Cindy, and the reason is, it is the first full-length album by the Pixies since 1991’s Trompe le Monde. Like that, Indie Cindy suddenly seems important. If lifestyle reporting didn’t exist, Indie Cindy would have virtually no reason to exist, either…
…Curiously, the baggage that justifies Indie Cindy’s existence also ensures it will be regarded as being much worse than it actually is. Judged solely as a self-released MOR rock record made by musicians in their late forties and early fifties who haven’t worked together in a creative fashion for nearly a quarter century, Indie Cindy is merely inoffensive. But as a Pixies record, it’s easily the worst entry in a celebrated discography. The more you love the other Pixies LPs, the less you’ll be able to tolerate Indie Cindy.’
This pretty much sums up my feelings re Heritage as I was writing yesterday, and it was this realization that prompted me to listen to it again mid review and soften my verdict. The music hadn’t changed but my relationship to it had, along with my way of listening and my apprehension of myself.
I’m sure I will tolerate Indie Cindy well enough, but I never became a fan by merely tolerating my favourite bands.In my 20s it seemed that they reached out and grabbed me: these days it seems like the job of reaching out is mine, and on occasion I feel a great reluctance to do so, for fear of falling out of love? Teachable moment is the popular vernacular, I believe.
Truth is I don’t really expect Pixies to ever sound as vital as this again:
Just as I don’t ever expect Opeth to record anything as vital as this now:
So really there’s nothing to be disappointed about, is there? And no shortage new music to be heard for what it is. Plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose, as they say…