"JESSIE'S GIRL" FROM "BOOGIE NIGHTS" As our porn star heroes approach rock…
- Posted on Aug 13th 2010 11:30AM by James Sullivan
Peter Walsh, Retna
Their third full-length album, 1990's 'Bossanova,' represented the Boston band's first recording outside their comfort zone (if "comfort" is a term that could ever describe the spasmodic Pixies). Produced in L.A., the album – "bossa nova" translates roughly as "the new thing" in Brazilian Portuguese – is the group's cockeyed slant on surf music, spaghetti Western themes and retro-futuristic garage pop. On the album's 20th anniversary, it's worth reiterating that 'Bossanova' remains just about as vital to the svelte Pixies catalog as its predecessors, the masterful 'Surfer Rosa' and 'Doolittle.'
Frank Black (born Charles Thompson) was then known, was a folk poet for the pharmaceutical age.
"I know she's here in California," he bellowed on 'Velouria,' 'Bossanova''s nearest-miss. For Francis, the muse was not so much a woman in a convertible but a recurring, disjointed dream of her, buried in his brain like a chigger.
On this underrated album (like the Pixies' 1991 swan song, 'Trompe le Monde'), Black Francis and Joey Santiago still twist their guitar riffs together like crackling copper wire. David Lovering still hits the snare like he's trying to propel himself up off his stool with each beat. And Kim Deal still glues the whole eccentric enterprise in melodious bubblegum.
From a bombastic surf-rock cover ('Cecilia Ann') to a speedy, sweet tribute to a lifelong saloon singer ('Allison') and an iconic girl whose "head has no room" ('Is She Weird'), 'Bossanova' has all the hallmarks of the Pixies at the top of their unique, unruly game.
The band sheared the tops of the heads off pretty much every key modern-rock figure to follow. Told that the Pixies would play before Radiohead at Coachella, Thom Yorke blurted that such heresy was like having the Beatles as your opening act. Kurt Cobain once said he should have been in a Pixies cover band.
Since they went back on the road in 2004, the Pixies themselves have been operating like a Pixies cover band. In a few weeks, they'll begin a series of shows devoted to the 'Doolittle' album in its entirety. If and when they manage to write some new material, we can only hope it approaches the thrill of the bossa nova.