Single Reviews - - by Sam Liddicott

SINGLE REVIEW: Pixies – Tenement Song

SINGLE REVIEW: Pixies – Tenement Song Photo Credit: Ben Kriemann/Future Image/

A new Pixies album is always exciting and should never be under-appreciated. 2014’s Indie Cindy divided critics and marked an impressive, if not fully immersive, album from a band who still continues to inspire and impress. Despite line-up changes – original bass player Kim Deal has departed the U.S. group – the music is still as spiky, pulsating and teeth-baring as their debut, Surfer Rosa. In fact, it hardly seems like the band has aged in that respect. One can easily draw a line through Surfer Rosa and arrive at Head Carrier – the forthcoming album from the alternative-rock icons.

On September 30th, Pixies will unveil their new album, Head Carrier. So far, two singles have been released: Um Chagga Lagga and Talent. The latter contained, rather worryingly, cliché, vague sentiments and rather pedestrian impressions – a song that could have been crafted by any floppy-haired indie band. The former is classic Pixies: propulsive guitars and a brilliantly cryptic vocal from lead Black Francis – stunning bass and backing vocal by new cohort, Paz Lenchantin. There is still baited breath despite Talent’s slightly disappointing aftertaste. The good news is latest single Tenement Song picks up the pace and gets Head Carrier back in the black.

Gnarling, rodent-infested guitars bring Tenement Song right to the fore. A riot of twisted strings and explosive undercurrents – an immediate and fiery opening. Black Francis provides a teasing, calm vocal that asks the question: “Hey man, can you give me something?” You are intrigued what the ‘something’ refers to – “Hey man, nothing comes from nothing” continues the thought process. A tenement is a substandard multi-family dwelling in the urban core, usually old and occupied by the poor. One imagines a song referencing a down-and-out; battling in a deprived and desolate apartment – begging for sustenance and hope. In the song (the hero) takes “one more smoke” and seems completely desperate – all brought to life by the band’s typically dependable quiet-loud dynamic. A sing-along, instantly memorable chorus; an unpredictable, scintillating composition and impressive lyrics make it a return to form – Head Carrier very much back on track. If the remainder of the album continues along Tenement Song’s lines: it will be one of the finest Pixies albums of their later period; possibly one of the best albums of 2016.


One response to “SINGLE REVIEW: Pixies – Tenement Song”

  1. McD says:

    This song starts off with a reference to the great 1942 fire at The Cocoanut Grove in Boston, the deadliest club disaster in history. Pixies and Frank Black songs usually have interesting references like that.

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