The Breeders – Last Splash

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Another one of the many overly-praised and quickly-forgotten alternative rock albums you had to deal with in the post-Nevermind wake. I’m guessing that these things are clogging used music stores everywhere, though I haven’t visited one in years so I can’t say for sure. What I do know is it sold more copies than any Pixies album not named Doolittle off the strength of one song – “Cannonball.” And while we’re comparing this to Pixies albums, this recently got the triple disc treatment – Lord knows this album really needed it; only Doolittle from the Pixies’ discography received such treatment. Aside from “Cannonball,” the rest of this is low-melody and high-intensity filler: Jim MacPherson works hard to elevate “Divine Hammer” with its otherwise grocery store melodies, harmonies and guitar solo. “Invisible Man” is nice in a really vague way (everything is doing something interesting while the song is happening but I walk away with only the choruses); the first half of “No Aloha” is what I want from a rock band signed onto 4AD; “Drivin’ on 9” has a nice melody and bounce, like Kim Deal’s sending us a 3 minute voicemail while she’s actually driving on the highway at dusk.

As for “Cannonball”, it’s a song so clearly made out of its individual parts and instruments: the opening feedback and humming (it sounds like the Deal sisters are warming up their vocal cords, which is adorable because neither of them sing anything worth a damn on this album); Jim MacPherson’s lyrical drum taps; Josephine Wiggs’ tangible bass line; the excellent guitar riff that counterpoints with Josephine; the excellent guitar feedback that adds menace to the enterprise; Kim Deal’s pause before she says “on the last splash” or how she sings it the second time; the guitar chug leading into the choruses; the sweet “hey now”‘s saving us from the apocalypse. But it’s not just one of those rare songs where each of its individual parts and instruments is really worth noting, it’s one of those rarer songs where everything comes together to form something truly great, and off the strength of this one song, I’m willing to say Last Splash beats anything in Frank Black’s discography. (That being said, Frank wins the war, as if there was any doubt.)

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