Bossanova

Pixies sound different here. The bass is less prominent, Kim is less prominent full stop actually, although she does make important contributions. This is very much a Black Francis song-writing showcase, and a Joey Santiago guitar playing showcase! Take ‘Cecilia Ann’ for instance, a fast Surf-Rock guitar instrumental to open. And then the second song is called ‘Rock Music’, and two tracks in manages to be one of the heaviest songs on the entire album. Charles is screaming but his vocals are slightly buried, but it hardly matters when the guitars are as heavy and great as they are. And then ‘Velouria’, a stunningly weird sci-fi pop song, a twisted love song, a song that means nothing at all? It’s just a damn fine song with lots of melody, Kim on support vocals and more great guitar. It was said The Pixies had gone ‘soft’ with ‘Bossanova’ by certain critics. I can’t see that myself. Well, sure, this record lacks any screaming as loud or aggressive as ‘Tame’. It lacks the raw edge of ‘Come On Pilgrim’. But, there are plenty of aggressive guitar parts here, even with the seemingly more commercial melodies of a ‘Velouria’. ‘Allison’ may be one of the best one minute seventeen second long songs ever written! ‘Is She Weird’ is suitably ‘weird’ I suppose, and also totally brilliant. The guitars are again to the fore, bass guitar too for this number and the vocals are more the demented Pixies vocals of old. But, do we even want ‘demented’ Pixies when we can have utterly beautiful Pixies, such as ‘Ana’ or ‘All Over The World’. ‘Ana’ is truly beautiful with Surf style guitar and very pretty and soft vocals. ‘All Over The World’ is something of an epic by Pixies standards, topping the five-minute mark. It progresses through various sections actually, contains some great sounding guitar and vocal parts throughout. It’s a song with a different structure than anything they’d done before and shows Black Francis trying to experiment with the music of The Pixies and not become stagnated too much within a particular style

‘Dig For Fire’ opens with one of those patented distinctive Pixies guitar introductions, moves into a fairly strong chorus but never quite takes off in the manner it sometimes threatens to. ‘Down To The Well’ features a more aggressive vocal performance, ‘The Happening’ even more so, Charles screams the vocals out but then we have softer, beautiful vocal and guitar passages. It’s a wonderful work of contrast, and yeah, the softer guitars really do sound wonderful and hauntingly beautiful. ‘Blown Away’ is more standard fare by Pixies standards, but still a strong piece of work by anybody else’s. ‘Hang Wire’ gets to grips with itself with some impressive guitar, both lead and bass – a great sound. ‘Stormy Weather’ is a favourite of mine, I don’t quite know why, just something about the weariness in the vocal performance added to the guitar sounds. ‘Havalina’ is another beautiful softer surf guitar influenced instrumental track. The vocals here are brief but the echo added to them works very well. Although ‘Bossanova’ probably is a step down from ‘Doolittle’ as far as the sheer impressiveness of the sound is concerned, there is something addictive about this, a special atmosphere surrounding it. OK, so that’s not exactly something tangible, and will most likely differ person to person. What’s more solid than some fanciful romantic atmosphere are the songs themselves. They are nearly all great, and ‘Bossanova’ ultimately is another special Pixies record.

 

 

 

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