The Breeders

Last Splash (4AD/Elektra ‘93) Rating: B+

Kim Deal’s girlish backing vocals were always an enjoyable element of the Pixies’ sound, and on her first album leading The Breeders she got a chance to step out front and showcase some of the songs she had stockpiled over the years. That album, Pod (1990), “engineered” by Steve Albini, was an appealingly raw collection, but it was the band’s second album (and first since the breakup of the Pixies), Last Splash, that made them alternative stars, primarily because of the hit single “Cannonball.” Featuring a deliciously slinky surf guitar line and supremely sexy vocals, it’s an irresistibly catchy pop song that simply put is among the decade’s best songs, as well as by far this album’s high point. The rest of Last Splash is somewhat inconsistent, buoyed by strong (and at times quite horny!) songs such as “Invisible Man,” “No Aloha,” “Divine Hammer” (their second most famous and second best song after “Cannonball”), “Do You Love Me Now,” "I Just Want To Get Along," "Saints," “Hag,” and “Drivin’ On 9” but marred by too many underdeveloped songs and song fragments (there are 15 songs in all). The Breeders simple, bare bones guitar crunch and unpolished swagger are easy to admire, however, and Deal has a unique songwriting style and an appealing pop voice. Although former member Tonya Donnelly (ex-Throwing Muses) left to form her own fine band Belly, Kelley Deal (Kim’s sister) helps fill out a sloppy, noisy grunge-pop sound that relies on inspired amateurism anyway, which is fitting for Kelley’s limited guitar playing skills (bassist Josephine Wiggs and drummer Jim MacPherson round out the lineup). The album at its best delivers some joyously fun pop music, and once Kim learns to fully develop her songwriting skills (much like Black Francis’ growth in this area fulfilled the Pixies’ vast potential) by delivering consistent, fully developed songs, The Breeders unique sound will hopefully translate into even more imposing long players.

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