This Pixies article was written by Lucas Jones, a GIGsoup contributor
How do you go about following Surfer Rosa and Doolittle, two near perfect, critically acclaimed rock albums that helped influence bands such as Nirvana and Pearl Jam?
This was the predicament facing Pixies in light of their third album Bossanova, but tensions within the band, particularly between Francis Black and Kim Deal, meant that Bossanova was not going to have the energy of Pixies’ first two albums. The stories go that Black got power hungry in light of the band’s success limiting Deal’s contributions to the band, and controlling how she played the bass.
Bossanova might not have the energy or harmony of the first two albums, but it was probably the band’s most experimental album, their most straight-up rock album. It is the surreal lyrics from Black and often patchy vocals, which is a constant throughout Bossanova and unfortunately defines it.
One such song “Rock Music” is a yelling mess; the words are incomprehensible, only saved by the near-perfect guitar and drum instrumentals. Fortunately, this is the anomaly; Bossanova is more of a melodic affair than the previous two albums with surf rock origins.
“Cecilia Ann” “Allison” and “Velouria” are easily the highlights of the album. “Cecilia Ann” is the perfect opener with an unexpected surf rock instrumental that would be more at place on a Beach Boys album. “Velouria” is a classic Pixies song, it feels like it was written for Deal, but hijacked by Black, what she lacks in vocals, she makes up for in the bass, delivering a thumping bass line. “Allison” harks back to the surf rock theme that runs through the album, serving as a tribute to the jazz pianist Mose Allison who the band admire and who inspired a number of R&B bands in the 1960s, which may feel like a strange tribute but it works nonetheless.
While the album is a departure from Doolittle and Surfer Rosa, it holds its own in the discography of Pixies, particularly when compared to the disappointing Indie Cindy. Unfortunately, the album marked the beginning of the end for Pixies, with the tensions between Deal and Black finally causing the 4-piece to disband