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Maiden Voyage: “Last Splash” by The Breeders (1993)

| Essays


Wherein we consider wildly popular or important albums I have never heard before.

Context:

Had only heard of “Cannonball” , the band’s one hit and the album’s one single, up to this point. Familiar with The Pixies (i.e. the prior band of one of The Breeders two lead singers)  but not anything else by The Breeders at all. Missed the album entirely upon its release.


Initial Impressions:

Far more a base and drums band than I had thought. Bass makes sense as is the instrument of the band’s founder. But the drumming here has a martial urgency that reminds me of early U2 and vintage Janet Weiss from Slaeter Kinney and hits me in all the right places. Great vocal harmonies too but that’s not a surprise given the sibling chemistry of the frontwomen.

Hits:

“Cannonball”, “Roi”, “Flipside”, “SOS”, “Saints”, “Divine Hammer”, “Driving on 9”

Misses: “New Year”, “Invisible Man”, “No Aloha”


Assets:

Killer chops on all instruments, great vocals working brilliantly together, drawing from a wide range of inspirations (Sonic Youth, Americana-era X, Brill Building Pop).

Liabilities:

The band’s impressionistic, minimalist lyrics can make songs feel like sketches instead of finished pieces. Also (and I can’t believe I’m saying this)  for a pop-inspired band, The Breeders are not always served well by short run times on songs. Several of their 2 minute numbers feel curiously unfinished and could have benefited from another verse or chorus or just more of the same, because “the same” here is wonderful.


Verdict:

A very strong album I would totally buy on overpriced vinyl (an option, apparently).

This wasn’t my kind of music in 1993 when I was 20 so I doubt it would have spoken to me then. But I have enjoyed the project very much of getting to know music I missed the first time around. “Last Splash” was a great find 25 years later.

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