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‘Head Carrier’ review: Pixies revive their own sound

"Head Carrier" is the Pixies' latest. Credit: Pixiesmusic / PIAS Records

PIXIES

“Head Carrier”

THE GRADE B+

BOTTOM LINE The indie-rock pioneers move forward while still looking back.

When you have a sound as distinctive and well-known as the Pixies do, fans aren’t really going to embrace a drastic change, like when bassist-singer Kim Deal left the band in 2013 before its album “Indie Cindy.”

On the band’s new album “Head Carrier” (Pixiesmusic/PIAS), the Pixies return to the sounds of their heyday, with new bassist-singer Paz Lenchantin, of A Perfect Circle and Zwan fame, stepping into Deal’s very big shoes.

Her standout moment comes in “All I Think About Now,” where she takes the lead on what sounds like singer Black Francis’ apology to Deal. “If I could go to the beginning, I would be another way, make it better for today,” Lenchantin sings over Joey Santiago’s grungy guitar riffs. “Remember when we were happy? If I’m late, can I thank you now?”

The rest of “Head Carrier” bounces between the sleek, catchy indie-pop of “Classic Masher” and “Oona,” with their roots in Pixies classics like “Here Comes Your Man,” and Francis’ yowling over harder-hitting rock in “Baal’s Back” and “Um Chagga Lagga,” where their influence on Nirvana can be seen.

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