Oct 03, 2022
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By Michael James Hall

Pixies were great, huh? With a knack for making music simultaneously disposable, frivolous, and eternally memorable, they were, perhaps, the most influential and important act of their era.

Their many imitators missed big by borrowing their angst and musical blueprint but failing to recognize that it was the intellect, the arch wit, the craft hidden amid the noise that often mattered most. It was the imagination with which they expressed that aforementioned angst that made their songs really stick.

Listening back to debut Surfer Rosa from 1988 they sound legitimately psychotic; at their artistic peak, on 1989’s frighteningly brilliant Doolittle they appear to hail from another planet. Across the three previous albums of the band’s second act, though, they’ve seemed to be…just a band. A band that sound like Pixies but surely are not.

Their new album, Doggerel, however, is a set of compelling, entertaining songs that may not thrill in the way vintage Pixies would, but give a great account of their subtler charms.

It doesn’t abide by a “quiet/loud” dynamic, nor rely on hellion screams. It doesn’t even make much of the interplay between Black Francis and bassist Paz Lenchantin’s vocals. Pixies, then, as contrary as ever, have somewhat dropped their own formula. Here, that rather inimical approach works.

What remains are melodies. Great big beautiful tunes like “Dregs of the Wine” carry lysergic, often hilarious lyrics, while the likes of “Nomatterday” and “There’s a Moon On” share ticklishly evocative moments amid their tilt and surge.

“Thunder & Lightning” is simply gorgeous, while “Who’s More Sorry Now?” is positively anthemic. “Haunted House” may be the silliest thing they’ve done and is all the better for it.

Sure, they may now be “just a band,” but on this evidence, they’re now a more compelling, entrancing one than they’ve been in years. (

Author rating: 7.5/10

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