Pixies – Doolittle

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1. ”WANNA GROW UP TO BE! BE A DEBASER! (debaser) DEBASER! (debaser) DEBAAAAASER!” (I have no idea what a debaser is (my guess is someone who debases things), but upon hearing Black scream it out and Kim speaking the word softly behind him, I wanna be one too.)

2. ”SLICING UP MY EYEBALLS! HAHAHAHA!”

3. ”GOT HIPS LIKE CINDERELLA.”

4. *Black moans loudly, rhythmically into the microphone. After a while, Kim joins in.* “TAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAME!”

5. ”YOU THINK I’M DEAD BUT I SAIL AWAY! ON A WAVE OF MUTILATION!”

6. ”THERE IS A WAIT SO LONG (so long so long) YOU’LL NEVER WAIT SO LOOOOOOONG! HERE COMES YOUR MAN!” (Singing this, drunk and on-stage at a karaoke bar, is apparently the way to (initially) get the girl of your dreams, if 500 Days of Summer is any indication.)

7. ”AH—AH—AH WOOOOOOOOHHH!”

8. ”If man is five […] then the Devil is six […] and if the Devil is six […] THEN GOD IS SEVEN!”

9. ”THIS MONKEY’S GONE TO HEAVEN.”

10. *Whistles* “YEAH!”

11. ”HEY!”

12. ”WHORES IN MY HEAD. WHORES (at the) DOOR. WHORE IN MY BED.”

13. The yearning in his voice of, “WHERE…HAVE YOU…BEEN?” and the way his voice breaks in the following “IF YOU GO! I will sure die…”

14. ”WE’RE CHA-HEY-AINED. WE’RE CHAINED—AINED (ain-ained)!”

15. *Guitar solo. Bent whole note. Bent whole note. Bent whole note. Rapid fire of notes notes notes that catapult into* “UH! SAID THE MAN TO THE LADY!”

16. ”THIS. IS. THE. SOUND. THAT THE MOTHER MAKES! WHEN THE BABY BREAKS!”

17. ”GOUGE AWAY. YOU CAN GOUGE AWAY. STAY ALL DAY. IF YOU WANT TO.”

—– —– —– —– —–

Yeah, listing a bunch of mantras/hooks might’ve been the laziest way to go about this review, but that’s only because Doolittle is all about its hooks; production-wise, the only difference between Doolittle and Surfer Rosa is that new producer Gil Norton pushes the vocals to the forefront (compare, for example, Frank Black’s screams in “Bone Machine” to “Debaser”) while continuing to make sure the drums smack as loudly as passionate kisses. 

A broad statement: I realize this might be the wrong place to complain about it, butTrompe le monde is mediocre and the reason why is simple: Kim Deal is missing. On the best tracks here, she provides a great contrast to Frank Black’s already great vocals. This is why, try though he might, Kurt Cobain could never sound like Pixies. They don’t rely solely quiet-loud dynamics like Nirvana does; everything about Doolittleis about juxtaposition. I’m not simply talking the juxtaposition between Kim Deal and Frank Black as vocalists (I’ve already mentioned the choruses of the obvious songs, the bridge of “Tame,” but for the best example, check out her airiness on “I Bleed” while Frank Black weaves around that; dig the way he dramatically drops a register to deliver “Nobody knows” on “I Bleed” at the 1:04 mark; speaking of that song and special moments, love when the guitar drops in at the 1:13 mark to bolster the second instance of the chorus). But also, check out the juxtaposition between dark lyrics and upbeat music; the way whores find their way into the closest thing the Pixies have to a love song (“Hey”). Check out how Kim Deal’s melodic bassline pushes the song to its chorus since the rhythm guitar’s happy to stay on the same guitar in that same song. Check out how Frank Black moves from singing melodically to screaming his ass off on “Gouge Away.”

A few broad declarations: I do sometimes find myself reaching for Surfer Rosa for its sometimes psychedelic but otherwise constant surrealism or Bossanova for its sometimes psychedelic but otherwise constant atmosphere, but Doolittle is obviously their best album, and the best album of 1989. That being said, there’s no reason for this to be 15 tracks instead of 12; there’s nothing interesting of note in the three song stretch from “Mr. Grieves” through to “La La Love You” (though I am a sucker for Lovering’s intro and the “Shake your butt” command, as well as the aforementioned whistle hook). And with a few exceptions like the surf rock driven “Wave of Mutilation” and “Here Comes Your Man” (which sounds like a harder R.E.M. song straight down to the “So. Central Rain”-like riff to the arpeggiated guitar in the verses) or the apocalyptic “Dead,” Doolittle doesn’t have the variety that those two albums provided. And when it does try for that variety, it doesn’t quite deliver: “Silver” is simply too sparse for its own good, and when it’s sandwiched between the album’s back half’s greatest and most exciting tracks…

Anyway, I once met a girl in my Science Fiction class who looked like she could be carrying something itchy (unless you think wearing fishnet stockings in the dead of a Canadian winter is somehow appropriate), and I asked her what she was for Halloween and she said “No. 13 Baby” and elaborated when I inquired further that she wrote “13” on her body and apparently had an allergic reaction and the thing came out all black and bloody. I asked if anyone got the reference and she said no. I nodded “Okay” but my eyes said “Well no fucking shit.”

Yeah. That’s a helluva way to end a review, so we’ll go with that.

A

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3 responses to “Pixies – Doolittle

  1. Pingback: Frank Black – Frank Black | Free City Sounds·

  2. Pingback: The Breeders – Last Splash | Free City Sounds·

  3. Pingback: Pixies – Trompe le monde | Free City Sounds·

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