Monday, November 17, 2008

Semi-Classic Album of the Week #4: The Pixies - "Doolittle"

I've been feeling a little down for the last couple of weeks and haven't felt like doing this feature. Well, music sounds good again so now I'm back. (C'mon - it's just a blog.)

The Pixies - Doolittle (1989)

I haven't been selecting these albums in any particular order, so if I had to choose a second-favorite all-time record after Mr. Bungle's last effort, Doolittle would sit at the top of a very short pile. The Pixies never released a bad record during their heyday (and the reception to their one unambiguously bad comeback single killed the chances of a reunion record which could have gone either way), and Doolittle is raw, melodic, immediate and, most importantly, it sounds like nothing before or since.

Much has been made of The Pixies' trademark ability to counterbalance loud and soft bits - shrieking choruses interspersed with quieter verses or vice versa - but I've always found their understanding of dissonance and melody far more compelling. What would a song like the epic "Monkey Gone to Heaven" be without the pretty bits, and what would it be sans the shrieking? It wouldn't be The Pixies.

Of special interest are the unambiguously poppy tracks - "Wave of Mutilation", "La La Love You" and "Here Comes Your Man" - which sound so smooth and agreeable that you might not even notice the offbeat guitar work continuing unabated, or the fact that they're still so muddy most people will never give them a chance. See, The Pixies mine melody from shrieking and catharsis from off-kilter chaos. Nobody's ever done it better and I don't think anybody ever will.

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