21. Pixies – Alec Eiffel

Oh Alexander I see you beneath the archway of Aerodynamics.

I’m in a minority by thinking the Pixies final album was their best. I might be a minority of one. I know how uncool it is to like the album where Black Francis took over, but I can live with that. Trompe le Monde was more interesting and more important to me than anything else they did.

Trompe le Monde was released about the same time as Nirvana’s Nevermind. This was when Seattle Grunge took over US music and every band was either from Seattle (Nirvana, Soundgarden, Alice in Chains, Mudhoney, Pearl Jam) or trying to sound like they were (Stone Temple Pilots). I was writing my Honours Thesis for the University of New South Wales and spent a lot of time writing with both albums playing in rotation. After a few months I couldn’t bear to listen to Nevermind again, and that aversion still ails me. Trompe le Monde, on the other hand, remains sublime and is playing in the background as I write.

The sound of Trompe le Monde is halfway between the traditional Pixies sound and the Frank Black solo work. Despite years of listening, my brain still marvels at the noise they make. You listen to the fun they’re having making these songs and you wouldn’t think they were on the verge of splitting up.

My favourite song on the album is Alec Eiffel. It sounds like bouncy pop, but it has an edge that warps it to a different planet. It has the strangeness and creativity of Frank Black but the happy, warm sound of the Pixies. Black Francis’s head might be screwed up by having to work with the rest of the band, but it makes a better environment for creating great songs. Nothing he wrote after sounds as good as this.

The Pixies don’t lip sync in their videos (see Here Comes Your Man) and they get around it this time by playing in a wind tunnel which distorts their mouths as they sing. I love the shots of them leaning in to the wind. I want a turn in there! Alec Eiffel is Aexandre Gustave Eiffel, the designer of the Eiffel Tower, and you can see a model of his tower in the video.

I never saw the Pixies play live, but I did see Frank Black and The Breeders, so I have half the band covered. Frank Black’s gig was excellent, one I remember well. I saw The Breeders in a giant arena festival and although they sounded fine, they were overshadowed by Björk, Smashing Pumpkins and The Ramones.


Next: 20. Muse – Knights of Cydonia

Previous: 22. Wire – Eardrum Buzz


1 Response to “21. Pixies – Alec Eiffel”

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