The second installment of the Pixies' hiatus-breaking EPs arrived almost as suddenly as EP1, and whether it was because of lowered expectations or the band getting back into a groove, EP2 feels more satisfying than its fitfully entertaining predecessor. Like EP1, these songs bridge Trompe le Monde's muscular approach and the fuller, more flowing sound of Frank Black/Black Francis solo releases like Teenager of the Year and Bluefinger. However, this time around it feels like a more natural melding of what Francis was doing on his own and what a 21st century incarnation of the Pixies could be. "Snakes" tempers the apocalyptic fervor of the band's early Biblical obsessions into something more resigned than vengeful; "There'll be nothing to do when the rattle shakes," Francis croons over an appropriately serpentine chord progression. Likewise, "Magdalena" uses the tension between its heavy guitars and soft vocals in a way that's less expected, and arguably more interesting, than the Pixies' famed loud-quiet-loud dynamics. The Pixies stumble when they try too hard to reclaim the cryptic surrealism of their heyday: the witchy "Blue-Eyed Hexe," with its stabbing rhythms and stomping riffs, is a fun-enough rocker along the lines of "Stormy Weather," "Subbacultcha," and "UMass," but it feels leaden and dumbed-down by comparison (it also doesn't help that Francis turned in more playful songs about Celtic mythology on the SVN FNGRS EP). Obviously, the band's first run is a tough act to follow, and if releasing songs in bite-sized chunks is easier for the band, it's also easier for listeners to (over)analyze them. Still, their post-reunion output leans on the most obvious parts of their music and lacks the economy and true oddness that made them so influential two decades before. It often feels like they wrote these songs to add some new material to their concert set lists rather than because inspiration struck; "Greens and Blues" is a pretty, vaguely sci-fi ballad tailor-made for providing a breather from their more frenetic outbursts. Calling EP2 "serviceable" might be a little harsh; instead, its best moments suggest that the Pixies are settling into writing songs that sound comfortable next to the classics and don't try too hard to reclaim the magic of the band's early years.
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AllMusic Review by Heather Phares