[Review] Pixies: Bossanova (1990)

Pixies make a pop album. Except, of course not, but they are surprisingly sweet sometimes on Bossanova.

Kronomyth 4.0: Bossa supernova.

Spaghetti ghost songs and some of the most accessible music in the whole Pixionary. Bossanova’s got a sweet side that starts with the haunted “Velouria” and burns straight through “Dig For Fire.” The giant, barbed choruses provide pure joy, a taste of things to come from Nirvana, Smashing Pumpkins and the new pop revolution. The old Pixies records never housed such a hospitable patch, but were boobytrapped with brutal experiments like “Rock Music.” Bossanova just has the one black sheep and plenty of fluffy white ones, bookended by spectral instrumentals.

I listen to Bossanova more than Surfer Rosa or Doolittle not because it’s better, but easier to swallow. Sugar-coated Pixies is my kind of poison. I like them spacey (“The Happening”), spooky (“Is She Weird”), even silly (“All Over The World”). Rosa, Doolittle and Trompe Le Monde are great albums, but they’re scary. When history tallies up Pixtory, however, it’ll probably read a lot like the first three records: Debaser, Wave of Mutilation, Broken Face and all the brutal noisemongering as art; Gigantic, Here Comes Your Man and the cute anomalies as the potent punchline. That Bossanova charted higher than any Pixies album before or since will work against it. “Velouria” will be trotted out, then tucked back into a toybox that includes far too many fun shapes not to be spilled out on the floor and played with more often. Like I said earlier, tracks 3 through 8 come out of the box a lot, and I love Bossanova for it.

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Original LP Version

A1. Cecilia Ann (The Surftones)
A2. Rock Music
A3. Velouria
A4. Allison
A5. Is She Weird
A6. Ana
A7. All Over The World
B1. Dig For Fire
B2. Down To The Well
B3. The Happening
B4. Blown Away
B5. Hang Wire
B6. Stormy Weather
B7. Havalina

All songs written by Black Francis unless noted.

The Players

Kim Deal (bass, vocals), Black Francis 9vocals, guitar), David Lovering (drums, vocals), Joey Santiago (lead guitar) with Robert F. Brunner (theremin on A3/A5). Produced by Gil Norton; engineered by Alistair Clay; mix engineered by Steve Haigler.

The Pictures

Art direction and design by Vaughan Oliver/v23. Photography by Simon Larbalestier. Portraits by Kevin Westerberg. Design assistance by Chriss Bigg. Globe by Pirate Design. Velouria’s outfit by Anne Garrigues.

The Plastic

Release on elpee, cassette and compact disc on August 13, 1990 in the US (Elektra, 60963), the UK (4AD, CADD/CADC 0010/GAD 0010CD); reached #70 on the US charts and #3 on the UK charts. Also released on red vinyl elpee in 1990 in Czechoslovakia (Globus, 210057-1311).

  1. Re-issued on compact disc in 2004 in Japan (4AD, TECI-21229).
  2. Re-issued on compact disc in 2005 in Japan (Teichiku, TECI-21307).
  3. Re-released on remastered super audio compact disc on October 14, 2008 in the US (Mobile Fidelity, UDSACD-2035).

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