Pixies – Bossanova / 30th Anniversary Vinyl Release

Hot off the heels of touring their breakthrough second full length album, Doolittle, which included the crossover MTV staple Monkey Gone To Heaven, the progenitors of “Loud Quiet Loud” started recording their third LP, Bossanova, in early 1990 at Cherokee studios in LA.
A mere two weeks of rehearsals preceded the recording and it was safe to say it was the least prepared the band had ever been entering the studio. The process was cursed from the start with technical difficulties. The studio desk would start picking up a local pirate radio station every night making it impossible to record past 6pm. After a quick studio change they finally got to serious work on their version of the rock cliche: “the difficult sophomore album.”
Frank Black recalls a very fast and loose routine, lyrics were often created on the spot and parts were finalized mere minutes before they were recorded. The process would yield mixed results but that spontaneity would be something the band would preserve to some degree in all future endeavors. While Bossanova garnered mostly positive reviews, especially in the UK, Rolling Stone gave it three out of five stars, a bit of a snub for one of the most anticipated indie rock albums of the time.
Back in 1990 you could not have found a bigger Pixies fan than me. But I recall Bossanova was not the Pixies record I was hoping for. Like most punk kids, I was living by a code and spacey surf- guitars, sophisticated melodies, and goofy Theremin sounds were not a part of it.
In retrospect, what I see now with Bossanova is a band at their peak, not afraid to stretch out and explore. The bold move of starting the album with the spaghetti westernish instrumental of Celia Ann (originally by the Surftones) followed by the blood curdling cries of Rock Music into the expansive wave crashing soars of Velouria, to me now, depicts a group confidently in the driver’s seat of where they needed to be. It was easy at the time to see songs like Alison and Is She Weird as Pixies filler only because the bar the band had set for themselves was so high. Listening back the song-craft of tunes like Dig For Fire and The Happening rival any Paul Simon or Brian Wilson venture. Ultimately, what we see on Bossanova is the Pixies doing what they do: mashing up bits and pieces of past cannons with the unique styles of four individuals to dictate the trend of the next decade in alternative rock music.
This beautiful new reissue, on translucent red vinyl with the original sixteen page booklet is a fitting testimony to the thirtieth anniversary of this monumental album. — Matt Roth

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