@a_onekatie I have long felt the same way ("No Kim, no deal!"), but Paz Lechantin seems to have made the remarkably ego-free decision to basically just do things like Kim would - her vocal harmonies and bass-playing here are very reminiscent. Like she thought, "what works best in the context of this band, and 'Pixies' songs?" and did that.
And yet, she's got writing or co-writing credits on several songs. So maybe she's also energizing Black Francis. Whatever it is, something's clicking here that hasn't clicked in a long time.
This is the first post-reunion record that that I haven't played two or three times, thought "meh", and then immediately forgotten about - this one's been stuck in my car, and my head, for days. It reminds you how great and important and influential they were, without necessarily trying to replicate exactly that. It does its own weird little dark thing (a lot of references to death and being "marked").