Pixies’ New Album Echoes the Grunge Era of Alternative Rock


Pixies new album, “Doggerel,” mixes their 90’s alternative rock with fresh, youthful lyrics. (Courtesy of Instagram)

As one of the ’90s’ original alternative rock bands, Pixies has been around for longer than the vast majority of the current Fordham University undergraduate population. After a decade-long hiatus, the band reunited in 2003 and has since released four full-length albums. Despite the average age of the band members being over 60 years old, their music is spunky and youthful, and their newest album, “Doggerel” — released on Sept. 30 — is no exception.

Angsty, nostalgic and a little bit spooky, “Doggerel” is pretty much exactly what one might expect from Pixies. However, the album’s predictability is by no means a bad thing. For fans of the band or the genre, there is no doubt that the album will be a hit. And for anyone who finds themselves on the fence, try giving it a listen. However I will warn you, the first half of “Nomatterday,” the first song on the album, won’t exactly hook you. If you can make it through the first minute of the project, then it’ll be smooth sailing — as smooth as alternative rock can be anyways.

In typical Pixies fashion, the album contains a myriad of songs pertaining to religious irreverence, paired with the existentialism and self-loathing one might expect to find in ’90s grunge era music. References to Christianity in particular are prevalent throughout the album and are discussed with varying degrees of subtlety. With songs like “Vault of Heaven,” “You’re Such a Sadducee” and “The Lord Has Come Back Today,” for instance, a certain amount of subtlety is abandoned for the sake of clarity, incindiation or, more than likely, both. It should be noted for the sake of those unfamiliar with Pixies that their inclusion of certain aspects of Christianity in their lyrics is based on lyricist and lead singer, Black Francis’, experiences growing up in a religious household rather than his or any other band-members present view on religion. In fact, Franics himself noted in an interview with Vanyaland that religion is just “fodder for the artform” and that he is “not a religious person.”

With “The Lord Has Come Back Today” topping my ranking of the album’s songs, it is no surprise that I adore the way Pixies includes Biblical references — irreverent as they may be. Other personal favorites from the album include “Get Stimulated” and “There’s a Moon On,” both of which are filled with fantastic lyrics and danceable beats. As previously mentioned, the first song of the album, “Nomatterday,” falls a little bit short, but the only other song that clearly left me with something to be desired was “Who’s More Sorry Now.” However, the shortcomings of these two songs are easily overlooked when listening to the album as a complete work.

The instrumental elements are cohesive throughout the entire album, making for a pretty uniform sound. Exceptions to this hard-hitting and rambunctious sound might include songs like “The Lord Has Come Back Today,” “Pagan Man” and the album’s titualar tune, “Doggerel.” It’s interesting to see how these three songs mellow-out compared to the others included in the project, especially considering the traditional sound structure of Pixies’ music. A major part of Pixies’ recognizable sound is their characteristic “loud-quiet-loud” shifts in the instrumentals of their songs or “high-low-high” intensity vocal shifts. This “loud-quiet-loud” structure is typically seen within songs, but it appears here to play a role in the album as a whole. The comparatively slower or quieter songs on the album allow for breaks in the head-banging beats of the songs that surround these mellower tunes. This self-referential nature of the album certainly makes for an entertaining listen. 

While the lyrics and sound of the overall project are great, the true value of this album is that it gives new content for those of us who are still stuck listening to our dad’s old rock playlist on Spotify. The tunes and lyrics are reminiscent of the early 1990s, but the 12 songs that make up the album belong to the new generation. The medley of an older rock instrumental style with youthful and relatable lyrics is exactly what Pixies fans have come to expect from the band’s newer releases. But these songs aren’t just for Pixies’ cult following. Lovers of Dinosaur Jr. or the Meat Puppets, or maybe those who’ve dipped their toe into Nirvana’s discography should also appreciate this album’s return to the roots of alternative rock. So if you’re looking for an album to jam out to with your dad or a song to head-bang to in your room as if you’re in a grunge-era music video, then look no further than “Doggerel.”