Head here to submit your own review of this album.

You know, after us music hacks have completed our PhDs, we are all required to go to arts journalism finishing school in Switzerland. There, we're imparted the 21st century's golden rule for generating interest in your column inches: drop in a controversial statement early on, then argue it for all you are worth. Are you taking notes? Good. So, in that spirit, here we go: this new material from Pixies - their first in the small matter of 23 years - isn't bad.

I know, what?

Honestly not trolling. But, to clarify, Indie Cindy is in no way as bad as many would have you believe. During the drip-drip release of the three EPs that are the constituent parts of the record, hunting Pixies became something of a callous bloodsport. The vitriol poured on a band for having the temerity to release new material was incredible - you might say the critics, ahem, GOUGED AWAY - but, let's face it, we love nothing more than slavishly sticking to a cycle of hyping something to the heavens, then tearing it to shreds for not meeting the impossible standards we ourselves invented. What's more, we hate changing our opinions; why, that would mean actually taking a step back and engaging with something on its own merits, and who's got the time for that?

But even when contrived hype is put aside, the band's hiatus meant Indie Cindy (and, yes, its dreadful title is one that Menswear would dismiss as being too trite) was always doomed, just like its titular song's blinkered, desperate lovers that throw themselves into the ocean. Pixies are intrinsically paralyzed by their own insurmountable legacy, and the extra decade between reformation in 2004 and this release hasn't helped, and the gap was becoming indefensible. But really, is there any mileage found in comparing new material with former glories?

Disclaimer before continuing: I'm officially a Pixies fan. As everyone knows, this is determined by one's ability to reel off the monologue from 'The Happening' word-perfect on demand. Actually, I'm downplaying it; I wouldn't be here doing this and flailing at the keyboard without Pixies, such was their impact on me. Simple as that. Too young to benefit from them first time round, I've devoured all their material - B-sides, rarities, demos, the lot. I was fearsomely transfixed by the 2004 Wave of Mutilation DVD, my first exposure to any live video. A calm psychosis, Frank Black sings/yelps/grizzles his violent, funny, gut-knottingly perverse and somehow still sweet songs like they're the most natural things in the world; the jarringly eccentric packaged with startling normalcy. It would be remiss to not admit to sticking up for them, but don't they deserve such respect - and a bit of leeway - after all they've done? You know, Shed Seven have just reformed. Reserve your ire for any of their new material.

Lest we forget, a powerful argument can be made for pretty much all modern rock springing from Frank Black's twisted songs and the band's quiet/loud template, a blisteringly simple idea so daring no-one had come up with it in 1987, and one that remains sacrosanct. No Pixies, no Nirvana. No Radiohead. No Pavement. No reactionary movements, even those that subsumed the formula to their own ends; no Britpop. (No Shed Seven! Imagine that.) And even with the albatross of their legacy around their necks, the biggest compliment you can pay Pixies is that still no-one managed to sound like them.

But I digress; to the actual material, shall we? If you thought my initial defence sounded like I was damning with faint praise, well, go to the top of the class. Indie Cindy is very much a qualified success. But that it exists at all is a minor triumph. As documentary loudQUIETloud shows, this is less a band, more a loose collection of passive aggressive control freaks who somehow end up on stage together each night. Fractious barely covers it. Of course, this is now not really Pixies at all after Kim Deal packed up her bass six days into the recording sessions in Wales, never to return. With a talisman permanently (?) gone, and presumably a subset of fans with her, the ship is at times listing.

Paradoxically, it's probably the reason why new material is finally seeing the light of day as Frank Black wrests back control, the last time this happened also being the last time anything got done all those years ago. Indie Cindy fittingly picks up around the Trompe Le Monde era; its sonic template operating at the slicker end of their spectrum. The pneumatics, belligerent riffs and clean crunch of opener 'What Goes Boom' has the record haring out of the blocks, providing a bed for phased guitar pyrotechnics from Joey Santiago, which remain inventive and visceral. It may feature some brow-furrowing wordplay - "I like that slinky little punky / little bit funky / itty bitty chunky right there / little bit lippy, a whipped cream hippie / zip and unzippy and I want her," but so what? It sounds vital and raw and, most importantly, Pixies sound like Pixies.

Elsewhere, 'Greens and Blues' is also a major triumph, despite Black stating it was "my attempt to come up with another song that would - musically, emotionally and psychologically - sit in the same place that Gigantic has sat." A pretty big ask, not to mention that songwriting to order always undermines the natural creative approach - is even antithetical to it. Yet it's testament to the band's current incarnation that they've just about pulled it off via a hearty acoustic strum and skyscraping melody framing a song about doomed paranormal love, Black the merman narrator returning to the ocean ("I said I'm human but you know I lie / I'm only visiting this shore / I'll soon be leaving in the outbound tide / I pray again we will meet"). 'Indie Cindy' runs with the same musical template, a syrupy chorus rubbing up against the verse's sourness, and simultaneously showcases the good and bad of Black's lyrics, mixing the myth of Theseus with awful one liners that collapse around his ears: "You put the cock in cocktail, man / I put the tail in... WAIT!"

It also contains an unlikely plea for affection front and centre, "Indie Cindy / be in love with me / I beg for you to carry me," a very un-Pixies emotional tug. The band may be conscious of the sudden need to court new audiences, or feel vulnerable releasing new material into the wild (the operative word given the critical reception thus far). A softer, more sentimental side is new - in distinct contrast to the band that manifestly used to not gave a shit, even satirising their core college rock fanbase on 'U-Mass'. These first three songs sweep away any doubt surrounding new material and even introduces a new, thoughtful subtext and edge, a world away from the hammer-to-head malevolence of 'Something Against You' or 'Tame'.

So wait, this sounds like they've moved on! Unfortunately not. How much of the newer fuzzy underbelly is the natural mellowing of demeanour with age or is more baleful-eyed overtures to the public to court cynical career preservation is anyone's guess. However, that a re-jigged tracklisting toploads the record with the more successful new material based on the reception of the EPs unfortunately suggests the latter. It relies on the momentum to carry the listener through and, unfortunately, it isn't enough. The biggest problem is that there's a great deal more moving on to be done, but, subtle early strides made, the band steadfastly sit still. The rest of the record is then largely lumpen ('Magdalena 318'), forgettable ('Silver Snail') or daft 'Andro Queen' having a bridge in Esperanto, something even a die-hard fan can struggle to defend. Some of these shortcomings could be collateral damage due to the never-ending victory lap of world tours since 2004, muscle memory not letting the band play anything other than tired approximations of its canon as the DNA of old songs bleeds into new. 'Blue Eyed Hexe' is punchy enough but it's 'U-Mass', cowbell and all. 'Ring the Bell' is keening and bright enough, but it's 'Havalina'. The exception is 'Snakes', a flying bullet of a song that's rattlingly, shudderingly modern and vital as anything you'll hear all year. Still, at the heart of the matter it's worrying to hear a band - any band - go through the motions as often happens here, and with Gil Norton still on the retainer as producer there's not only no real impetus but also no prompt to even attempt anything new.

The circumstances surrounding the record have unavoidably caused consternation. I mean, rage at Kim Deal's departure (and the botched replacement), at the perfunctory basis of the release, that the band seemingly don't give a shit, at the dispassionate march of the ages and your own lost youth. Fine; all valid criticisms. But don't throw the baby out with the bathwater. This not an LP devoid of appeal. It's one with many dubious moments, sure, but look, Indie Cindy is not an affront to the enterprise of human culture and our collective development as a species. It's a set of rock songs. Granted, straight-ahead and frequently workmanlike rock songs, but they are not - repeat, not - without merit. That the band no longer sound unique isn't their fault - the world cottoned on and caught up during their absence. And what do you expect? Them to reinvent modern rock AGAIN? Even given the mixed results it's good to have them back. Listen without expecting the impossible and you'll find ample to enjoy.

This is the place you'll find reviews from 405 Readers. To join in, head here.