'Beneath The Eyrie' by Pixies, album review by Adam Williams for Northern Transmissions


Beneath The Eyrie


Pixies have bucked the trend for most reformation bands; some groups appear content cashing in on lucrative tours and festival headlining slots, but Pixies have actually released new material and continue to operate as if they hadn’t dissolved in the early 90s. The subject of new music for any band coming back from the dead is a contentious one; fan’s can be heard shouting “just play the old stuff”, wanting to keep the original incarnation of their beloved band pure. Internally, the grunge pioneers had their own conflicts about whether to press on with music post reforming. Sadly, Kim Deal, the group’s iconic original bassist decided that she couldn’t commit to the Pixies of the noughties and beyond, so not to dilute their legacy. However, this bump in the road hasn’t upset the unit’s applecart; Pixies have released two records since their resurrection in 2003 (2014’s ‘Indie Cindy’ & 2016’s Head ‘Carrier’) and now we have a third instalment of records in the 2010’s, coming in the form of ‘Beneath The Eyrie’, showing there’s still life in the old dog yet.

An ‘eyrie’ is defined as “a high or inaccessible place from which someone can observe what is below them” which typifies the position of the four piece on their new record as they act like twisted storytellers, recounting warped odes from their observation perch. Pixies’ seventh LP chronicles dark, sinister tales of witches, mythical creatures and otherworldly happenings. Whilst sonically ‘Beneath The Eyrie’ takes the band’s legendary grunge sound and colours it with tinges of vaudevillian malevolence. ‘On Graveyard Hill’, through fuzzed up guitars and fidgeting anthemic rock, chief Pixie Black Francis growls about a witch-like figure whose appearance will stop you in your tracks “her eyes are flying saucers/her hair is black and gorgeous”. While from her elevated position, she signals a clarion call like a mermaid enticing would be sailors to a grizzly death “on graveyard hill/she’s calling out her curse”. An ominous air pollutes opening track ‘In The Arms of Mrs Mark of Cain’, as jittering percussion tip-toes around nightmarish guitar grinds and Black’s demonic purr. The vocalist stakes his claim for recovering something that’s precious to him, as if to announce a Lord of the Rings style quest “my memories are all fables/so I’m trying to get back the truth”. ‘This Is My Fate’ is where the lively stomp of vaudevillian takes up the limelight as Black preaches about the “valley of death”, while seeming resolute that his cards have been dealt, “this is my place/this is my fate”. Keep an ear out for the lovely percussion flourishes, as Black demands for you “to take a little more drink” like you’ve been plunged into a drunken medieval banquet. ‘Catfish Kate’ regales you with a story of a person named Kate who’s abducted by a catfish in a place “where every creature drinks their fill/and other creatures take their kill”.

When not burrowing deep into folklore and weird stories of catfish and witches, ‘Beneath The Eyrie’ takes on a more general feeling, with ‘St Nazaire’ adopting a revved-up take on surf rock that has Pixies and Black sounding at their most pissed off as the frontman barks “I’m all done talking to you” while layers of grunge rock skip and cavort like a weird take on the Hokey Cokey. ‘Bird of Prey’s washer board shuffle and Nick Cave and The Bad Seeds-like darkness positions Black like a demonic storyteller with a taste for vengeance “you’ve stolen my tomorrow/so I’ve come for it today/you stole it when you stole my yesterday”. Album closer ‘Death Horizon’, whilst sounding jaunty and playful, caps off the record with an alarming apocalyptic decree “that death horizon will burn right through you” as if to set out a prophetic statement of nuclear annihilation.

Grab a flagon of mead and let Pixies tell you the stories of ‘Beneath The Eyrie’; tales so evil and warped, they’re not for the faint-hearted.

Words and thoughts of Adam Williams

Tour Dates

12 De La Warr Pavilion, Bexhill, UK
13 Motorpoint Arena, Cardiff, UK
14 Pavilions, Plymouth, UK
16 O2 Academy, Birmingham, UK
17 O2 Academy, Leeds, UK
18 O2 Apollo, Manchester, UK
20 Alexandra Palace, London, UK
21 O2 Academy, Newcastle, UK
22 O2 Academy, Glasgow, UK
23 Usher Hall, Edinburgh, UK
25 Ulster Hall, Belfast, UK
26 Olympia Theatre, Dublin, Ireland
29 Sentrum Scene, Oslo, Norway
30 Cirkus, Stockholm, Sweden

1 KB Hallen, Copenhagen, Denmark
3 TivoliVredenburg, Utrecht, The Netherlands
4 O13 Poppodium, Tilburg, The Netherlands
5 Columbiahalle, Berlin, Germany
7 Palladium, Cologne, Germany
8 Lucerna Music Hall, Prague, Czech Republic
9 Gasometer, Vienna, Austria
11 Estragon, Bologna, Italy
12 Todays at OGR, Turin, Italy
13 X-Tra, Zurich, Switzerland
15 Tonhalle, Munich, Germany
16 Forest National, Brussels, Belgium
17 Luxexpo, Luxembourg City, Luxembourg
19 L’Olympia, Paris, France
20 Le Radiant, Lyon, France
21 Le Liberte, Rennes, France
23 Sant Jordi Club, Barcelona, Spain
24 Riviera, Madrid, Spain
25 Campo Pequeno, Lisbon, Portugal
26 Coliseum, Galicia, Spain


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