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Monday, 6 April 2009

This Monkey's Gone To Heaven

Doolittle, whose 20th anniversary was last Friday, is perhaps the least likely Easter release of all time, and, I think, one of the greatest pop culture products of the last 30 or so years. Anyway, it's a great album, and one of my ten favourite. The lines "If the devil is six/ Then God is seven!" must be among the most ecstatic and joyously weird ever sung.

Pixies albums are strange, exciting, exotic, and chilling events. On Doolittle, religion, surrealist film, mass murder, true love, general mania, desire, the body, and evolutionary theory, get flummoxed with sounds never before linked - ululating and alternatively crooning vocals, perhaps the creepiest, most plaintive of all time and most willing to go new places - and zanily, uncannily creative use of the rock palette of instruments. It's the album that, when you heard it, you knew you were "alt" or "indie". Heaven it was to be young in 1989.

Pixies were to music what Peter Lorre was to German cinema. Now, the irony we all know is, this 1989 masterwork prefigures everything good about Nirvana- the screeches then lyricism, the tenderness and odd medical obsessions, the fast and slow, the off-kilter sublime postmodernism of it all - being innovative and fun and off-putting all at once - and, whereas Nirvana became rich (and some became dead), Pixies became, instead, critical darlings, and, basically, commercial also-rans. This may be why Doolittle, after 20 years, smells still as off-sweet, whereas, will In Utero really remain classic?
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