Pioneers of the loud/quiet schtick, Pixies never really reaped their just rewards during their 80s and early 90s heyday. As we all know they had to sit back and watch the Grunge scene evolve and steal most of their best ideas: Nirvana and Pearl Jam going into orbit, whilst they had to contend themselves with critical claim and eventually a rancorous split in 1993. However, their legendary status grew and grew and reunions eventually became inevitable, if strained and unhappy.
Doggeral is Pixies 8th album in 32 years (since 1988’s Surfer Rosa) and the good news is it’s probably their best yet, crammed with punchy power pop, crunchy choruses and unexpected harmony. Recorded by original members Black Francis, Joey Santiago and David Lovering – Kim Deal now replaced by Argentine-born bass player Paz Lenchantian – it wears their influences on its sleeve. Who are they? Apart from some of the obvious (Bowie, Beatles, Stooges etc) we get some of the less likely: Talking Heads, T Rex, XTC and even, gulp, Rush. It makes for an intoxicatingly satisfying strange brew.
Fans of old won’t be disappointed by this latest Pixies adventure, which is seamlessly fluent and dynamic. Highlights include Pagan Man – the wistful country-rock hit Neil Young never wrote – Haunted House an unashamed pop anthem reminiscent of The Shins in their prime, Vaults of Heaven, (weird surf rock), and opener No Matter Day, a calling card complete with filthy bass line and shimmering guitar work. It’s one of the few examples of the radical mood and tempo changes of old. Doggeral will ultimately triumph because of its accessibility, whilst not disappointing fans of old.
Who would have thought that a band that originally emerged on the indie scene in the 80s, and who handed over the baton to others who prospered on a far greater level, were eventually able to reclaim their legacy in such a compellingly great way. Doggeral deserves to be one of this decades best-selling albums. If that proves not to be the case, we should all hang our heads in shame. Look out for their European tour in 2023.
Writer and professional flautist Grace Twomey (MMus) performs regularly at gigs in South London where she’s based. All her areas of expertise include classical, pop, indie, latin and folk music.