1. This band could write a catchy hook in their sleep. Examples? Examples:
- ”I GOT A BROKEN FAIIIIII—I GOTTA—I GOT A BROKEN FACE UH HUH UH HUH UH HUH OOOH!”
- ”OOOOOOH—“ “Stop!” “AH—“
- ”THIS IS A SONG ABOUT A SUPERHERO NAMED TONY. IT’S CALLED TONY’S THEME!”
- *Music stops.* ”YOUR BONE’S GOTTA LITTLE MACHINE!” *Riff comes back.* “AHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!!!!”
2. It might be the fact that “Gigantic” is an ode to “A big, black cock” (I might’ve used my reviewer’s licensed and changed the lyrics there), but I like to think that “Cactus” is an equally sexually explicit song about a young male asking his girl for her panties, “Will you take off your dress and send it to me? / I miss your kissing and I miss your head,” etc. Regardless of subject matter, it’s a fantastic song, and I’ve a sinking suspicion that it would not be half as good without Kim Deal singing backing vocals (which is why David Bowie’s version pales in comparison). My only problem with “Cactus” is that the mixing is kind of low, especially when it’s sandwiched by the two huger-sounding tracks, which makes me wonder if Black is saying, “Sitting here wishing on a semen floor” because the ‘t’ of “cement” can’t be heard. It might also be due to the fact that my mind’s constantly in the gutter but I can’t exa—
3. Oh look! Vintage boobies on the cover!
4. You really expect “Gigantic” to explode into gear after the opening two measures, especially since Lovering taps out 8 beats on his drumsticks instead of the usual 4. But it doesn’t; instead, Kim Deal comes in, center-stage and gives us a baseline. Elsewhere, Frank Black sounds like he’s crying.
5. This is the album that would (rightfully) put Steve Albini on the map as a (wrongfully) in-demand producer for the rest of his life.
6. In comparison to Doolittle (why not compare them?), everything on Surfer Rosa sounds particularly huge, thanks to Steve Albini (well, with that aforementioned exception). On follow-up and Albini-less Doolittle (who left the band after calling them a bunch of cows who needed guidance), then-producer Gil Norton will focus more on the vocals. Take, for example, Frank Black’s screaming on “Bone Machine”; they are barely noticed unless you’re looking for them, especially since they come during a time when there’s descending guitar riffs and basslines to worry about, not to mention Lovering moving from keeping time to explosive drum rolls. Here, on the entire album, Albini makes sure that the sound is the sum of their parts, which gives it a charm that, as far as I’m concerned, very few other rock album possesses. Anyway, as for where I stand on both albums, I think both are flawed, and though Doolittle possesses the band’s best songs, Surfer Rosa is easier to listen to because the quality is spread more evenly throughout.
7. ”You Fuckin’ Die…!” (separated into its own track from “Oh My Golly!!!” on reissues) and “I’m Amazed” feature some studio banter between the members of the band. This was Albini’s touch. They are also probably the only interesting moments of the album after “Tony’s Theme.”
8. Well…I guess those harmonies on “Oh My Golly!!!” are catchy.
9. ”Vamos” is a re-write of the one found on Come On Pilgrim with more electric guitar. It wasn’t very interesting the first time and it’s not very interesting now. It’s also 4 minutes long, which is about two minutes longer than the average track here.
10. ”Brick Is Red” didn’t really need the vocals. It would’ve worked just fine as an instrument, since Black’s riff basically carries the song through.
11. I would change my name to Tony so I could listen to “Tony’s Theme” (which would basically be “My Theme”) on bike rides around the block. Unfortunately, my monosyllabic and extremely Asian last name don’t work well with Tony, so I probably. There’s also the fact that I’ve forgotten how to ride a bike and contrary to what people tell you…it’s not very easy to pick up again. Or maybe it’s the fact that I’ve no idea how to sit on the thing without killing my future children.
12. You ever go to your friend’s place and pick up their acoustic guitar and say something like “Man, you play guitar? We should totally jam!” and the guy nods and says excitedly, “Yeah totes, mcgoats!” (Hopefully you guys don’t actually sound like this), but your plans always fall through because neither of you actually know how to play the guitar very well and don’t want to embarrass yourself in front of the other? Well, fear no more. “Where Is My Mind???” is a testament to what you can do with two guitars; five chords (technically six, if you count the Am that sneaks in there), and a simple riff. Sure, you guys probably won’t be able to replicate Kim Deal’s wordless backing vocals that give the track a psychedelic edge (once the riff stops, it sounds like it’s coming from underwater), but you’ll at least be able to shout “YEAH” in unison.
13. The script of the ending of Fight Club probably read something like this: “A building crumbles. Marla lets out a gasp, her hand slips into Mr. Narrator’s. Buildings topple around them. “Where Is My Mind???” starts playing. Nothing else matters.”