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Pixies - Bagboy (Single Review)

Friday, 28 June 2013 Written by Huw Baines

Two weeks really is an eternity in the music world. Since the departure of iconic bass player Kim Deal was announced by Pixies a fortnight ago, Black Francis has debuted music as part of the Thriftstore Masterpiece collective – alongside Pete Yorn, Modest Mouse frontman Isaac Brock and Courtney Taylor-Taylor of the Dandy Warhols – and Deal's 'Last Splash' tour with the Breeders has powered on, barely stopping to crest the speedbump.

Now, with one website landing page, everything has changed again. Bagboy is the first new music from Pixies in nine years, since the Deal-penned Bam Thwock landed as an iTunes exclusive single, and a hint at a first full-length since 1991's 'Trompe Le Monde'. As shocks go, this one was as sharp as one of the band's angular guitar breaks. 

Kicking off with a fuzzy, two-note bassline, the track's thick production initially hints at something different before Francis' vocals bring it all flooding back. “Cover your breath, polish your teeth,” goes the song's repeated refrain, with David Lovering's drums thudding through at the top of the mix.

It could only be them, and it doesn't come as a surprise that the track's constituent parts have been knocking around for several years. Disconnected, abstract lyrics battle with snatches of off-kilter guitar before a huge, melodic riff spins the song off into a chorus underpinned by vocals from Deal – we can only assume - and squalling high notes.

“The lyrics, coincidentally, were composed at a Starbucks Coffee in Harvard Square in Cambridge, about a hundred feet from where, 25 years ago, I composed some of the lyrics to an old Pixies song called Break My Body,” Francis said.

“Twenty five years later, some Starbucks in Harvard Square, I thought that was kind of interesting. The music for the song has been around for a few years. There are some demos I made with Joey and David a few years ago in Los Angeles, related to a film idea that still has yet to see the light of day, although work on the music continued.”

The song's conclusion is its greatest triumph, a stomping, powerful mess where Francis' shouts mash together perfectly with the backing vocals. It's vintage Pixies and even after all these years, that's a really, really good thing. There's no telling whether a new record is on the way, or whether the band will replace Deal, but just for now, Bagboy is pretty convincing evidence that they are still alive and kicking. 

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