ALBUM REVIEW: Pixies - Doggerel


Pixies - Doggerel

It wouldn't be a Pixies LP without having to reach for the thesaurus or dictionary at least once. Doggerel is a comic verse composed in an unusual or irregular rhythm. It could be argued that Black Francis has made a tidy career out of these very doggerels; perhaps he invented the term. The Pixies could never be described as regular or predictable. They manage to reference a book from the bible, big-hair '80s rock bands, convenience stores and religious sects all in one sitting.

This is the Pixies' fourth long-player since reforming in 2004 and eighth overall. Allegedly Francis arrived armed at the recording sessions with over 40 songs in his bag of tricks. Producer Tom Dalgety (Royal Blood) filtered through these with him in Massachusetts before completing the works with the full band on the west coast.

The core members - Francis, Santiago (guitar) and Lovering (drums) are in their late 50s and early 60s now, with bassist Paz Lenchantin in her late '40s. So, it is no surprise that their sound does not contain the same tonic venom they belted out in the early days. That being said, the guys have not put on their slippers and smoking jackets just yet. There remains plenty of fizz in their output. As Francis points out - "The punky stuff, I really like playing it, but you just cannot artificially create that shit."

'Nomatterday' is a decent opener, almost like two songs in one. The heavy bass intro and slow build are followed by a rapid-fire finish, punctuated by an iconic Santiago solo. 'Vault of Heaven' could be straight out of a Tarantino or David Lynch movie and contains some legendary Francis lyrics – "Went to the 7-11 to try and get me straight. I ended up there in outer space".

After the band's implosion in 1993, Joey Santiago formed The Martinis with his ex-wife, Linda Mallari. Santiago helped to pen 'Dregs of the Wine', a song that recounts those hedonistic, drug-filled LA days during the 1990s with Francis and his then-wife. Santiago has since gone on to be completely sober since 2016. Only the Pixies could reference Van Halen in such a blasé manner in its intro.

'Haunted House' is unashamedly classic Pixies contrasted with the slightly flat 'Get Simulated'. A couple of the tracks seem to serve as a classy nod to Neil Young on both sides of the coin. 'Pagan Man' has a softer 'Harvest Moon' Young era about it, whereas the sunny 'The Lord Has Come Back Today' references the Crazy Horse 'Hey Hey, My My' line "Out of the Blue, into the Black."

'There's a Moon On' is an interesting one. Francis's brother used to run a bar in town. This effort sings about madness setting into the human psyche based upon the timing of our lunar cycle and, in this case, summoning the demons of anger within the drunks at the pub. Hard to know if this is based on actual events or from the Black Francis book of myths.

'Who's More Sorry Now' sounds like it should be on a Frank Black solo album, and the title track feels more akin to Leonard Cohen than the Pixies. 'You're Such a Sadducee' [a 'Sadducee' being someone of a Christ-time Jewish sect that only believes in written law, not in resurrections or spirits – and why not Mr Francis..] is quirky, peppered with Pixies irony and some delicious Santiago guitar bites. It also contains the best lyric on the LP – "Such economy like Deuteronomy".

Doggerel maintains Pixies' resurgence in the second phase of their musical odyssey. They do not force the issue or try to hammer home any of their historical musical stereotypes; however, there are enough Pixies sonic signposts that will delight the most ardent fan and enough ingenuity to lure in some new listeners too.

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