Photo: Travis Shinn

Pixies – “Talent” (Singles Going Steady)

"Talent" has an urgent groove, interesting pop culture references and some instantly recognizable Joey Santiago guitar riffs.

Adriane Pontecorvo: Banging from the very first beat. This song layers cool on cool, laid-back vocals and driving, droning guitar, all leading to a simple chorus that’s easy to shout along with. The Pixies spend the entire two minutes at maximum power, a well-oiled machine. They’re at their tightest here, not a piece out of place from its speedy beginning until it glides to a final stop. A satisfying burst of energy. [8/10]

Chris Ingalls: From their latest upcoming post-Kim Deal album, Head Carrier, “Talent” has an urgent groove, interesting pop culture references (who else has lyrics that name-check Jack Palance?) and some instantly recognizable Joey Santiago guitar riffs. I’ve often said that Frank Black solo albums are infinitely more interesting than anything the reunion-era Pixies have put out, and this track isn’t likely to change my mind. I like it, but it’s too short and a bit too lacking in imagination and edge to get me excited about a 21st century Pixies. [6/10]

Tanner Smith: “Talent” is a subpar Pixies rave-up that would never have made any of their first five seminal releases. It certainly wouldn’t have even made the Complete ‘B’ Sides collection either. “Talent” is the sonic expression of irrelevance. It’s proof positive that there is literally nothing worse than pursuing superficial nostalgia, as evidenced by this track’s awful cribbing of “I’ve Been Tired”‘s style and structure. Why isn’t Charles Thompson IV updating his Black Francis persona into an old-man drifter type like Tom Waits circa Bone Machine or Mule Variations? Where’s the sincere creative effort? That’s what made the Pixies legendary in the first place. They mixed complicated sexuality and violence in a way that indie rock had never seen before. Now they’re releasing music that’s as interesting as piece of wood from Home Depot. [0/10]

Andrew Paschal: Maybe it’s just me, but this almost sounds like it could be a ’70s glam rock song, a la Lou Reed or certain David Bowie songs. In any case, “Talent” may not be super ambitious and it lacks the gravity and darkness of other Pixies songs, but it has a sense of humor and irreverence to it that’s somewhat appealing. [6/10]

Michael Pementel: This is some fine rock ‘n’ roll that flies from the second the song begins. From their upcoming album Head Carrier, the Pixies have laid out a fun, ‘drive-along’ jam that will easily get everyone bobbing up and down. This is rock meant to be fun with bright instrumentals, and lyrics easy to sing-along too. [8/10]

John Garratt: As cynical as I can be at times, I did not join in on the Pixies-bashing when they decided to release new material a couple of years ago — I just didn’t have it in me to hate an album like Indie Cindy. I mean, who are we to tell a bunch of middle-aged rockers, who have paid their dues many times over, that they shouldn’t “ruin their legacy” by writing and recording new material? More power to them, right? But now, I have to say that “Talent” just isn’t very good. The band’s bite is absent, Black’s writing is either rusty or on autopilot, and the cursing just feels obligatory. God, I hope this isn’t a harbinger for the forthcoming album. [4/10]

Dan Kok: While this track lacks the manic freakiness of the group’s classic material, Frank Black and company seem to have incorporated a grit that was missing on 2014’s Indie Cindy. Whereas those songs were polished and pleasant, “Talent” begins and ends loudly and aggressively. It’s a little over-simple and ends before it can really dig its hooks in, but at the very least it is a promising teaser for their new album. [7/10]

Christopher Laird: It’s almost like the guitars introducing the song are yelling at you. If they’re yelling anything at you, it might be, “give us another try, please.” It would be worth it if you did. By no means is this song a “Where Is My Mind?” or even a “Crackity Jones”, but it is delightfully askew in a few small ways. The lyrics are vague enough to keep the possibilities of creepiness shining through, just like the Pixies we knew from decades back. The music is bouncy enough to bring back Trompe Le Monde memories. Overall, a good sign for an upcoming album from a legendary band. [7/10]

William Sutton: Alt-rock luminaries return with a track light on their usual bite and drive. Much like “Um Chagga Lagga” this is a playful track but aside from a strong bassline the sound on this indie rock number seems somewhat restricted and Black Francis even more uninterested than usual. The chorus is catchy in its simplicity and the musicianship tight but more will be hoped for from Head Carrier. [6/10]

Paul Carr: The release of 2014’s Indie Cindy seems to have cleared the decks for the band. In effect it’s released them from any kind of fevered anticipation and allowed the band to just exist. Here, they strike a perfect balance between their poppy and more caustic sides. Like the best Pixies songs it’s simply constructed with an insistent and uncomplicated bassline, thumping drums and distorted power chords. It adheres to the precept that they popularised: “if you’ve got a good verse, play it again and make it louder”. This is a prime example of Frank Black’s mastery of pop songcraft. Without the weight of having to write a new album since their reunion they sound like they are (heaven forbid) even enjoying making music again. [8/10]

Pixies’ Head Carrier releases September 30th.

SCORE: 6.00

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