The Pixies' surprise release today of a churning, noise-streaked new confection called "Bagboy" is gigantic news on several levels. It's the Boston-born indie-rock flagbearers' first new track since 2004's iTunes exclusive "Bam Thwok." It's their first song since Pixies bassist and Breeders singer-guitarist Kim Deal left the band officially earlier this month — it's unclear whether the Deal-like voice tartly singing the title phrase here is, in fact, Deal's. And you know what? It shows the band in fine form, with Black Francis declaiming darkly amid wiry guitars and purposeful plodding that would nestle perfectly into a potential live set (hint, hint, Pixies!).
"Bagboy" also marks an improbable and uncertain new phase for the indie-rock nostalgia cycle. When the Pixies reunited in 2004, a wave of similar reunions followed, from Pavement to, more recently, Neutral Milk Hotel — basically, everybody except the Smiths. Deal even got together a classic lineup of her other band, the Breeders, to commemorate the 20th anniversary of 1993's Last Splash. The Pixies haven't exactly stayed away since their initial reunion — they kept up a busy touring schedule from 2009 to 2011, in that case commemorating the 20th anniversary of 1989's Doolittle.
But a new song from un-re-reunited indie-rock legends? That's uncharted territory.
According to Stereogum, the Pixies recorded "Bagboy" last autumn in Wales. Black Francis said he wrote the lyrics at a Starbucks in Harvard Square, roughly a hundred feet from where he wrote "Break My Body" from the Pixies' landmark 1988 album Surfer Rosa 25 years earlier. He added that "A lot of the musical ideas had been kicking around for a while. It's pretty simple, kind of a blue-based, two-note kind of thing, really."
The video, directed by LAMAR+NICK, is not the innocent boyhood fantasy of a bathtub filled with cereal that it might seem.