Pixies made a long-lasting impact on the alternative music scene in their early days, with albums like “Surfer Rosa” famously inspiring Kurt Cobain, PJ Harvey, Thom Yorke, and so many others. Now they’re back with “Doggerel,” their first studio album since 2019.
Black Francis, with his signature eccentric lyrics, returns in this aptly named album. The word “doggerel” can mean anything from “crude” or “irregular” to “burlesque” or “humorous.”
Pixies have traditionally been noted for popularizing the loud-quiet, hard-soft dynamics that would become a staple of grunge music. In “Doggerel,” they add something new to the mix.
Opening with “Nomatterday,” David Lovering’s stoic drums drive the track forward until a sudden tempo shift knocks the song into an energetic latter half, with an amusing chorus that can make you giggle and sing along. These wild shifts happen a few times throughout the album and highlight the untamed nature of Pixies.
“Vault of Heaven” is one of the exceptional tracks on this album. The twangy guitar gives the song the feeling of a cowboy’s tune, although the subject is far more quixotic than anything you’d find in a Leone or John Wayne film.
The music video, produced by bassist Paz Lenchantin, features a cast of old folks dressed as 20th century pop stars goofing around a 7-Eleven. You’ll find yourself wanting to believe the surrealistic visions of old man Elvis, still alive and gyrating around a liminal 7-Eleven, as well the man riding around Los Angeles on a toddler-sized pony, wearing nothing but a Zorro hat, mask, and cape as the legendary Don Diego.
“Get Simulated’’ is certainly Pixies’ proudest track off the album. In fact, Paz and Joey name it as their favorite. The bass and rhythm guitar crawl forth over the drums like a spider up a water spout. Francis sings in whispers until a heavy synthesizer washes over the track, making for a hypnotic ending.
“Doggerel” is a quirky mixture of funk-adjacent sleaze and strange guitar. The bandmates and producer Tony Fletcher have really settled in with each other as collaborators and have come out with some excellent tracks. There’s something in “Doggerel” for everyone: from catchy lyrics and sweet melodies to heavy rock riffs and draggled rolling rhythms.