I appreciate The Pixies. And I totally understand why so many people my age and a little older totally revere The Pixies. But The Pixies have never really grabbed me and made me love them. I was starting high school and just starting to develop my own musical tastes when ex-Pixies bass player Kim Deal kicked off the next stage of her career with The Breeders. The second album, and real breakthrough, Last Splash, spawned the single Cannonball that has been an alt-radio and my iPod constant ever since.
Maybe it’s purely a function of my age and Deal’s second band’s vintage, but I’ve always found The Breeders more relevant and vital to my listening than The Pixies. Obviously not enough to really embrace them though, I guess. Because I just realised that I haven’t listed to their seminal Last Splash in probably over a decade. So I decided I was overdue for a refresher if I was going to go on claiming to love this album and this band.
While The Pixies invented and perfected the whole quiet, loud, quiet dynamic that ended up defining so much of 90s rock, Deal and co. put a new spin on that approach, and indulge in more than few moments of simple loud, loud, loud on Last Splash.
The combination of Kim and her sister Kelley Deal’s angelic voices over their shredding, blown out guitars is always a winner, and songs like the afore mentioned Cannonball and Do You Love Me Now? exploit that sonic mixture perfectly. And while there’s nothing in the album’s early stages to hint that a song like the neo-surf instrumental of Flipside is the kind of thing to expect from Last Splash, there it is, around the halfway mark, in all its epic coolness.
There’s straight forward punk rock with I Just Wanna Get Along, ethereal mediation with Mad Lucas and pure guitar pop with Divine Hammer. Then, when things close out on the almost country Drivin on 9, I noticed and realised for the first time just how eclectic Last Splash is. Even with my limited exposure to The Pixies, I feel like I can pick a Pixies song and know what to expect from a Pixies album. And while I know Kim Deal isn’t the only member of The Breeders, I still feel like her contributions are what I like most, so in turn, noticing her wider ranging song writing is one of the real treats of Last Splash.