Pixies – Doolittle

Released April 17, 1989 (Brad’s 16th birthday) this, their second studio album, is often considered their best work. It combines offbeat and dark subject material with a clean production sound. It is certified Platinum, selling over a million copies worldwide and its two singles landed in the Billboard Top Ten. Rolling Stone has it as #227 on “The 500 Greatest Albums of All Time” and Pitchfork ranked it as the fourth best album of the 80s.

Jason: So…I am worried that after we finish this conversation you are going to make me sleep on the couch tonight.

Brad: Uh oh…you might be right if you say anything bad about this.

Jason: I’m a debaser. To be honest, this album is the perfect example of why I listen to them multiple times.When I first listened I was like NO! NO! N. O. NO! But then the third time around I was in a different space and I started to get it. By the fifth time I thought. Okay. I understand what’s happening here. Do I love it? No. But I started to appreciate it.

Brad: That’s fair. This is one of my all-time favorite albums by one of my favorite bands. 

Jason: All time favorite albums?! That surprises me. It’s really heavy and Black Francis just screams a lot. In “Tame” he whispers then SCREAMS. It’s a tough one to get through.

Brad: I love every scream.

Jason: I hate his asthmatic, whooping cough inhales during the bridge of “Tame.”

Brad: I figured you would hate some of the vocal sounds on this album. But there is such a catchy pop sound mixed in with the harder rock sounds throughout. It is such a great balance of the two.

Jason: Doolittle is definitely not a “Monday on the way to work at 7:30 in the morning before your first cup of coffee” album. It’s more of a “Friday night after a long week and three beers in” album.

Brad: I kind of disagree. I listened to it on the way to work the past couple days and it gave me a jolt of energy.

Jason: Okay but you already like them. In the morning it made me angry and cranky and hostile. I bet you can easily guess which song I like the best on Doolittle.

Brad: “Here Comes Your Man”?

Jason: Yes. it’s the most radio-friendly song but it’s not like anything else on the album which is kind of misleading but also kind of cool because it shows off different sides of the band.

Brad: I agree. That is the one song that Black Francis (aka Frank Black) did not want to include on the album because he thought it was too pop.

Jason: It is very pop, hence why I like it.

Brad: It is. My favorite song on this album is “Wave of Mutilation”. The fast version of the song is on this album but I love the slowed down UK Surf version that was in the Pump Up the Volume movie. I’ve seen them in concert several times and I love that they usually play both versions.

Jason: They do? That’s cool. The opening chord of “Monkey Gone To Heaven” sounds like opening chords to “Beds Are Burning” by Midnight Oil to me. That’s neither here nor there but I do like that song. Both of those songs. How did you discover Pixies?

Brad: I think I saw Here Comes Your Man and/or Monkey Gone To Heaven on 120 Minutes. Then I loved the Pump of the Volume soundtrack which led me to get all of their cds (probably from Columbia House)

Jason: Ah yes. 120 Minutes probably exists because of Pixies and similar bands. God bless Matt Pinfield.

Brad: Totally. In fact, Have you heard of the 80s Alternative Music site Slicing Up Eyeballs?

Jason: Gross, no.

Brad: Ha. Well, it is named after a lyric in “Debaser”.

Jason: Well there you have it. What do you like most about Pixies and Doolittle?

Brad: It makes me happy every time I listen to it. You can hear their influences like Surf Rock, Iggy Pop, etc… But they took it in a completely different unique direction that pretty much inspired all of the 90s alternative rock. Nirvana, Radiohead, Smashing Pumpkins and many other bands were inspired by the Pixies. In fact, Kurt Cobain said he was trying to write a “Pixies song” when he wrote “Smells Like Teen Spirit.”

Jason: No doubt they were very influential. In fact in “La La Love You” the drums kind of remind me of “Capital Letters” by Ned’s Atomic Dustbin (a band no one knows except for me). By the way, in “La La” are they saying “Check your butt” or “Shake your butt” or “Chicken butt” or what?

Brad: They are saying “Shake your butt” but it often gets misheard.

Jason: Guess what?

Brad: What?

Jason: Chicken butt! Remember that old Macaulay Culkin SNL skit? Ignore me. You know the more I listen to Pixies the more I appreciate them. Their lyrics are dark but the production is pretty clean. How much of the band is Black Francis and how much is Kim Deal?

Brad: Most of the writing and creative control is Black Francis and that is why Kim Deal is no longer in the band. They started to not get along because she wanted more creative input.

Jason: Sounds like a legit request. She left and we got The Breeders out of the deal. Another band that I go back and forth on.

Brad: I love The Breeders too. I totally get why she left. Kim did the Pixies reunion shows from 2004 until about 2013. That is when they were touring on their past catalog. But when it came time to creating their most recent two albums, she didn’t seem to want to be a part of that which is interesting because they were both critical flops.

Jason: So Kim really is a big deal. (See what I did there.) 

Brad: Uh-huh. By the way, I just noticed that the “P” in their logo has a pixie wing on it. It kind of blew my mind a little.

Jason: That’s interesting. Also, I want to mention that in “Hey” at 1:55 they guitar makes a loud Tyrannosaurus Rex noise a few times which I like. 

Brad: Oh! It does sound like that.

Jason: Maybe Spielberg was influenced by Pixies as well. Do you want to guess my grade? I am going to guess an A from you?

Brad: You guess correctly, I give Doolittle an A. I am going to guess a B- from you.

Jason: Well. I started at a D but then I went to a C and now I am between a C+/B-. I think I will go with B- because they are influential and actively listening to the album really turned me around on them. Do I have to sleep on the couch tonight?

Brad: No. I’m proud of your music appreciation growth.

Jason: Great then tonight I am going to walk into the bedroom singing “Here comes your man!”

Brad: Please don’t.

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