What we’ve heard from the Pixies in the past is cast in different flavors and amplified across this whole record. Essentially a collection of the three EPs the band has released across 2013 and 2014, there nevertheless appears to be a cohesive intentionality that runs through all of the songs. “What Goes Boom” sounds strangely like a hard rock side of the band that we haven’t really heard before. “Greens and Blues” is more back to the kind of bittersweet whimsy that has long characterized the band’s gentler moments. In the record’s title track there is the echoing, countrified, gritty melodicism that graced much of the Bossanova record.
But Pixies aren’t trying to recapture past glory. The group seems confident enough in this material and in its legacy to take chances on something different but clearly of the eccentric, imaginative explorations and the nervy energy essence that made their music interesting from the beginning. “Bagboy” starts out simply enough and then balloons into a demented swirl of harmonized vocals and surging tendrils of guitar. “Magdalena 318” is like a sibling to “Velouria” with spacier guitar and meatier riffs. “Blue Eyed Hexe” is reminiscent of “Hey” in structure but quickly becomes a song that has the swagger of a sleazy blues rock song like a genuinely clever parody of some lust-induced glam metal song of the late ’80s.
“Andro Queen” stands out because it has that surf vibe that the band has always cultivated but it quivers and rings out in echoes on the edges in the guitar like something Roy Orbison might have done on his final record. It is in this song, too, that Charles Thompson’s vocals swim in something like perfect harmony with the melodic swells intermingled with glittery, gossamer guitar work and David Lovering’s simple, marching band-like snare tattoo. “Women of War” ends the album with a song that truly sounds like it could have been on the album that would have followed Trompe Le Monde with the start and stop dynamics working alongside the quiet and loud tonal strategy. Joey Santiago’s signature buzzy and shiny rhythmic leads, though, sound like he’s learned a few things since the earlier days of the band in terms of creating a real wall of sound and that, along with tighter songwriting is what really makes this record worthy of the group’s past catalog.