Frank Black and the Pixies' reunion.

Pop, jazz, and classical.
April 1 2004 6:22 PM

Back to Black

The long-anticipated Pixies reunion.

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The Pixies would never have let their hearts slip so precipitously sleeve-ward. Their frenzy wasn't meant to focus attention on the suffering soul, but to conceal a carefully wrought architecture—a set of formal devices that allowed the band to communicate emotional intensity while guarding it from mawkishness or self-pity. Black, however, managed something more on his own: He found a way to combine formal dexterity with emotional directness and to convey his heartfelt passion for rock 'n' roll itself. And if he manages to carry that new-found conviction into the Pixies' reunion, we just might see a better band than the original Pixies ever got to be.

Alex Abramovich has been writing for Slate since 2001. In 2008, Riverhead will publish a history of rock 'n' roll he's been working on for the last four years.

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