Ceaselessly praised by critics and music nerds and often cited as a major influence by later artists who went on to huge success (Nirvana, anyone?), Massachusetts outfit the Pixies first broke up in 1993 after a relatively brief seven years helping to define what 'alternative' means. Bassist Kim Deal already formed Breeders by that time and frontman Black Francis went on to a prolific career as Frank Black.
Pixies' return in 2004 helped start a still-profitable nostalgia trend in alternative music. Bands could seriously cash in a decade or more after an often under-appreciated first go-round thanks to years of name-dropping and critical reverence. Those fans present for a great band's first run would gladly shell out to recapture that magic, and younger fans who grew to love an artist's music post-breakup finally get to experience a favorite band in person. But when I saw Pixies in 2004 and again in 2011, I certainly wasn't thinking about how much money they were making. They were THAT GOOD.
Since that 1993 breakup and 2004 reunion, Pixies released one song. "Bam Thwok" was a Shrek 2 castoff that eventually hit iTunes. Band members shifted blame for the lack of a new record during interviews throughout the 2000s, but one constant seemed to be fear of damaging their legacy. The list of bands whose post-reunion output garnered popularity or acclaim is short.
When Pixies announced Kim Deal's departure a few weeks ago but didn't disband, many fans scratched their heads. Now there's a new Pixies song, recorded before Deal quit, released today. "Bag Boy" doesn't feel quite right at first. I haven't spent much time with Black Francis' non-Pixies material so his voice sounds lower compared to Pixies' albums (it's been 22 years, after all), and David Lovering's drums sound almost too crisp. But as the sharp guitars distort and build and Kim (UPDATE: Black Francis says the female-sounding voice in the chorus is actually a longtime friend of his, Jeremy Dubs) sings the chorus around the 1:30 mark, "Bag Boy" starts to feel more like the Pixies.
Now we just need to figure out what the release of "Bag Boy" means for the future of this band.
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