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Bands are like marriages: outsiders never really know how they tick. Who knows why Pixies spent years on the alt-rock heritage circuit but promptly lost bassist Kim Deal when they tried to record new material, or why the songs on their first album since 1991’s Trompe le Monde are already available on a series of EPs – a curious recycling that sabotages any sense of occasion. But beyond the mystery lies disappointment.
There are fleeting glimpses of former glories, chiefly when guitarist Joey Santiago is at his most fired up. But the songs dwindle into chugging predictability, singer Black Francis lacks the screaming intensity of old and the lyrics are awful (“Ping pong bingo, fills à la Ringo”). The fake Kim Deal backing vocals on “Bagboy” are a cheap shot too.