Pixies – Doggerel (Album Review)

Pixies – Doggerel (Album Review)

The influence of Pixies on many other artists in the Alternative Rock sphere can never be underestimated. Nirvana, Pearl Jam, Smashing Pumpkins, Weezer, The Strokes, and Modest Mouse are only some on the list of those that acknowledged the impact of the Pixies on the entire Rock scene itself. Formed in 1986, in Boston, Massachusetts, Pixies released four studio albums during their heyday – from 1988’s Surfer Rosa to 1991’s Trompe Le Monde. Reforming in 2004, they released three more – from 2014’s Indie Cindy to 2019’s Beneath the Eyrie.

Now, three years later, Pixies – currently consisting of original members Black Francis (lead vocals, rhythm/acoustic guitar), Joey Santiago (lead guitar, backing vocals), and David Lovering (drums, percussion, backing vocals) and Paz Lenchantin (bass, violin, vocals) – are set to unleash their latest full-length effort. Coming out on September 30, 2022, via BMG Records, Pixies’ new record, Doggerel, is a departure from the punky Pixies of old. The 12-track set is a foray onto more expansive, introspective, and ornate sonic expressions.

Doggerel starts with the straightforward, four-on-the-floor rockin’ stomper “Nomatterday,” which exudes faint echoes of “I’m an Adult Now” by The Pursuit of Happiness and “Heart-Shaped Box” by Nirvana. Following next is the less grungey, desert-dry trek of “Vault of Heaven.” Then returning the listener to the band’s gigantic days is the slow-fast-slow trick of “Dregs of the Wine.” And then there is the melodic, sour patch fuzz of “Haunted House,” featuring Pixies’ trademark guitar-bass call-and-response and male-female vocal interplay.

A slight slowing of pace, yet still edgy and catchy, “Get Simulated” further displays Pixies’ dabbling with a more textured and layered approach to music making. “Lord Has Come Back Today,” on the other hand, may be regarded as an album highlight–memorable, oozing with melodies, and more progressive than usual. “Thunder and Lightning” then plays next–initially ominous and eerie then building up into something poignant and nostalgic.

Pixies then launches into the psychedelically dark “There’s a Moon On”–another single off Doggerel. The Heartland Rock vibe then continues with “Pagan Man”–blowing whiffs of Neil Young’s “Heart of Gold,” America’s “A Horse with No Name,” and Bruce Springsteen’s “Brilliant Disguise.” The ensuing “Who’s More Sorry Now?” then simply picks up on the previous track’s stylistic direction. After the back-to-original-form “You’re Such a Sadducee,” Francis, Santiago, Lovering, and Lenchantin finally end their well-woven new offering with its trippy, subtly funky title-track.

The band that started a stylistic revolution thirty years ago may no longer be as confrontational and frenetic as how they used to be, but their evolved music remains as influential, innovative, and interesting; if not lyrically substantial and more relevant and musically more harmonious. As mentioned, Pixies has been back for a while now; three relatively new albums on the members’ dusted-off sleeves and the fresh, brand-new one forthcoming. Where is your mind? What are you waiting for? The time to dig again at Pixies’ fire has come. Loosely styled and irregular in rhythm for comic relief it is certainly not–Doggerel. That is why Cryptic Rock gives it 4 out of 5 stars.

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aLfie vera mella
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Born in 1971, in Metro Manila, Philippines, aLfie vera mella is a healthcare worker, singer/songwriter, and editor/writer. He was the frontman of the ’90s-peaking Philippine Alternative Rock / New Wave band Half Life Half Death, which released a full-length album and several singles on Viva Records. aLfie worked at Diwa Scholastic Press as an editor/writer of academic textbooks and supplementary magazines, focusing on Science & Technology and English Grammar & Literature. In 2003, aLfie migrated to Canada; he has since been living in Winnipeg, Manitoba. He works full-time at a healthcare institution, while serving as the associate contributing editor of Filipino Journal—a local community newspaper in Winnipeg—tackling Literature, Languages, Cultures, Lifestyles, and Music. aLfie has been a music journalist since the mid-’90s for various print magazines as well as websites. He started writing album reviews for Cryptic Rock in 2015. In 2016, aLfie published Part One (Literature & Languages and Their Cultural Significance) of his Essay Series, Can You Hear the Sound of a Falling Leaf?; in 2021, his first book of poetry, Pag-íhip sa Dáhon ng Kahápon [Blowing Leaves of Yesterday]. In his spare time, he enjoys reading books and listening to music. aLfie is a dedicated father to his now 13-year-old son, Evawwen; and a loving husband to Kathryn Mella, who herself moonlights also as a writer aside from holding a degree in Bachelor of Arts, Major in Sociology.

2 Comments
  • Wes Starke
    Posted at 03:27h, 05 October Reply

    Wow. Just wow.

    This is by far and away the most bland-sounding album from any work Black Francis or even Frank Black was part of. 4 out of 5…? Are you KIDDING?

    Not one track varies from the next (save for tempo…which remains strictly mid-tempo) and not one track stands apart from the next or previous. Paz does not sing lead on any of them this time which is telling; this album treads oft-worn ground in rote, going-through-motions style.

    Ask yourself this: if any track from Doggerel was played live right now at a concert you were attending would you recognize ANY of them w/o thinking hard? Not just the opener….ANY of them.

    These are bloodless songs. Nothing relevant or invigorating. And don’t use age or experience as an excuse: Robert Pollard will be 65 soon and he STILL kicks more butt on a weak album of GBV’s current line-up than this tired offering from a band who’s done far better and recently.

    Head Carrier was a fun record to listen to. Beneath the Eyrie was a cohesive and moody dusk-to-dawn record to appreciate. But Doggerel is just…dog-gone boring. VERY disappointing.

  • aLfie vera mella
    Posted at 10:05h, 05 October Reply

    Nice review you have there! What magazine or website can I read the entirety of it?

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