Pixies Transcend the Ordinary

*** 1/2


"Trompe Le Monde"


After last year's mannered, sub-par "Bossanova," these college-radio faves have come back with spark rekindled. Each song on "Trompe Le Monde," the Pixies' fifth release, offers the melodic pleasure of catchy pop and the body thrill of noisy, bracing rock. The Velvet Underground remains a key inspiration, but the album is full of nods to such sources as ZZ Top, the Ramones, early Kinks and "Revolver" Beatles.

Spouting such lines as "oh kiss my ass, oh let it rock" and "keeping low doesn't make no sense," singer-songwriter Black Francis and company practice what they preach. While the lyrics are fragmentary as ever, a sense of thematic cohesion and even narrative progression emerges.

The Pixies want desperately to transcend what's ordinary about the world--a proposition put forth most directly in a zooming version of the Jesus and Mary Chain's "Head On." Francis dreams of traveling space, building towers, gliding through lofty mountain reaches (keeping low doesn't make no sense).

In the end, the Pixies poignantly admit that spacemen, too, can crash and burn, and that humans don't have wings. But "Trompe Le Monde" shows that earthbound yearners at least have the power to dream at high wattage.

New albums are rated on a scale of one asterisk (poor) to four (excellent).

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