Back to the '90s: Pixies and 'Bossanova'

If there were a way to measure the ratio of musical influence to the number of albums sold by an artist, Pixies would be up there with the Velvet Underground, Big Star and Television. Like those groups and many others, much of the energy of the Pixies came from the tension between its two principal songwriters Frank Black (then, and sometimes now, known as Black Francis) and Kim Deal, who later formed the Breeders.

That creative tension would eventually unravel the group (which also featured Joey Santiago on guitar and David Lovering on drums), producing the uneven and dissonant “Trompe le Monde” in 1991, and the group’s dissolution in 1993. In 1990 it was still working in their favor as evidenced by their third full length “Bossanova.” While not as celebrated as 1988’s “Surfer Rosa” or 1989’s “Doolittle,” “Bossanova” has some of the best and most well-known songs Pixies ever recorded.

Starting of with a bang (literally, an amp backfiring starts the first track) and the shredding surf punk of “Cecilia Ann,” the first half of the album is almost entirely heavy hitters. “Velouria” has been covered magnificently by coffee shop jazz combo The Bad Plus, “All Over The World” is the blueprint for Modest Mouse’s first two albums and “Allison” is a pop gem lasting a quick minute and 17 seconds.

Even in this company, “Dig For Fire” is still the stand out track of the album combining Frank Black’s storytelling lyrics with the quiet verse/loud chorus formula that Nirvana and a host of others followed to Modern Rock radio success in the ensuing decade.

Unfortunately the remainder of the second half doesn’t quite reach the heights set in the first half, though the mid-tempo rocker “Stormy Weather” is quite catchy and “Havalina” is a lilting ode to the southwestern peccary.

— Nicholas Coleman

  4 comments for “Back to the '90s: Pixies and 'Bossanova'

  1. March 22, 2010 at 9:59 pm

    Great stuff — it’s a sufficiently vivid post that I’m buying the album. Again. Lost my original CD, forgot how much I enjoyed it. You reminded me, and my week will be better for that.

  2. Listen, Dammit
    March 22, 2010 at 10:06 pm

    We love bringing together people and great albums, even if it’s for the second time. Thanks for reading!

  3. March 23, 2010 at 10:04 pm

    This serious has also been a great excuse to fill some of the gaps in my collection, and revisit a few old favorites.

  4. March 23, 2010 at 10:04 pm

    That is, this _series_. Seriously.

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