Alternative rock veterans the Pixies took to a converted church to record their seventh album, “Beneath the Eyrie.”
The influence of gothic styles and indie tones supplement the albums alt-rock core, bringing unique accents to the Pixies’ signature sound.
The Pixies turn to their expert use of dynamics throughout the album, showcasing a balanced interaction of quiet and loud.
The few tracks that do not stand on their own are still part of the album’s excellent production, maintaining a cohesive sound all the way through.
“In the Arms of Mrs. Mark of Cain” opens the album with a perfectly blended mix of crystal clear percussion, grungy guitars and rich, crackling vocals.
It sets a vibe that brings words like “creepy” and “sinister” to mind.
The lead single “On Graveyard Hill” continues the gothic sound and theme the group intended for the album, according to lead vocalist Charles Thompson IV, widely known by his stage name Black Francis.
The sound is much more ‘90s than 2010s.
Pez Lenchantin’s work on the bass is outstanding here, and provides a backbone that encourages the listener to groove along with the “In the witching hour/In the witching hour” hook.
The gothic feeling is lifted, if only temporarily, with “Catfish Kate,” a bright, indie tune paired with a vivid music video to match.
The next track, “This Is My Fate,” pulls things right back into the dark style.
The precise mixture of bass and piano provides a deep, bouncing sound in the background, reminiscent of an upright bass.
“Silver Bullet” is excellently produced and creative, a shift from the measured, predictable “Ready for Love.”
One of the most outstanding features of “Silver Bullet” is its powerful guitar riff.
While the rest of the song has a generally calm demeanor, with soft guitars and relaxed percussion from David Lovering, this fueled-up riff brings power and substance.
In that sense, it is a classic Pixies track; the group has dynamics down to science, shifting from quiet to loud at just the right time.
The converted church setting the Pixies recorded in seems fitting when listening to a track like “Los Surfers Muertos,” and when looking back at the Pixies’ previous work.
As primary songwriter, Francis has long gravitated towards biblical imagery, dark aesthetics and unusual topics.
Unusual is a fitting term for “Bird of Prey” when compared to the album as a whole; behind the dark timbres of Francis’ vocals and Joey Santiago’s lead guitar, an almost country-like rhythm guitar fills out the sound space.
It is especially noticeable in the chorus and refrain, as the phrase “little birdie” is repeated softly.
The second-to-last track, “Daniel Boone,” maintains the dark aesthetic of the album, but ventures into brighter tones and timbres.
It is a relaxing track well-suited for a long drive, or even to sleep; while the song is not boring, its swelling, atmospheric instrumentals could definitely lull the listener to an indie-induced sleep.
Things are sealed off with the gothic-indie tune “Death Horizon.”
Bright vocal harmonies contradict the song title, and the instrumental is simple and well-blended. It is a short and sweet ending to the album.
Throughout this album, unexpected sounds and instruments come into play, while other instruments are measured and perfected.
While one or two tracks act more as atmospheric fillers than stand alone tracks, these are contrasted by strong tracks like “Silver Bullet” and “This Is My Fate.”
The album as a whole features creative choices and masterful songwriting.
“Beneath the Eyrie” sounds like the work of mature, experienced alt-rockers.