Articles: Howl Soon is Now?

Concert Review (Citadel Centre, Washington DC) by Jon Wiederhorn
Melody Maker, December 14 1991.
Transcribed by C. Gourraud for Alec Eiffel

Pixies are destined to forever remain an enigma. The less praise they deserve, the more they receive. The more they receive, the stranger they become. there's a dichotomy going on here that's anything but concrete. The Pixies have nothing to say, yet they say it so eloquently. They take themselves to seriously, but everything they do is a joke. They're sloppily tight, and sluggishly aggressive. In short, The Pixies are utterly (oxy)moronic, ever elusive. We don't know whether to extol their nonconformity or condemn them for lyrical inanity.

Black Francis is, perhaps the biggest (figuratively as well as physically) contradiction of all. Even his name defies itself - Black being ominous, Francis sounding so bloody benign, like a fat, ostracised character of a TV sitcom. Though best known for his histrionic, painstricken bellow, Black exhibits little inner torment tonight. His delivery is phlegmatic, almost apathetic. It's as if someone slipped a sedative into his beer before the show. Hell, he even out-Mascises J himself.

It's all rather lifeless, loveless, and pointless. In their current state, the Pixies are music noir for the X Generation: bizarre, unmelodic rock for people afraid to strive for goals, so they settle for directionless motion.

The band ride in on a very unmaimed " Wave Of Mutilation ". It's the same version they used in the " Pump Up The Volume " soundtrack, all slow and gloomy, subdued by acoustic guitars and Kim Deal's haunting background vocals. " Mr Grieves " picks things up a bit, Joey Santiago's minor chords and blaring feedback navigating the caustic soundwaves. But considering the gutted belly roar we're used to, Pixies sound positively healthy and well adjusted. In other words, something's very wrong. It doesn't matter all that much on " Where Is My Mind? " and " Aurora " (sic), which are supposed to be quirkily reflective. But when it's time to shift into overdrive, the Pixie-mobile repeatedly slips and locks in third gear.

" Monkey Gone To Heaven " lacks any hint of indignation, and " Gouge Away " doesn't even scratch. The unjaded, trusting rock critic (another oxymoron) might interpret this as a clever master plan to convey purposeful inertia, but it doesn't hold our interest nearly as well as traditional primal fury.

There's no doubting that Pixies are capable of taking us where no band has gone before - to a place where seamonkeys control the oceans, bored beer-drinking university kids dressed in black rule the land, and toneless blues bands dominate the airwaves. On a good night, Pixies reach the Planet Of Sound. Tonight, they tiresomely circle Limbo. they're still uncanny, unfathomable and undeniable. But they used to be untouchable.



Last Updated 02-26-97