Capsule Review: Doolittle – Pixies

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This piece was originally published by Audioxide in May 2017. Audioxide invited a couple of guest writers to contribute very short pieces about Doolittle for their 100th review, and this is my sorry attempt at trying to do justice to one of the greatest rock records of the last few decades in about two-hundred words. I usually enjoy writing capsule reviews, but when confronted with a work as monumental as Doolittle, the form cannot help but feel somewhat inadequate. Or maybe it’s just me that’s inadequate – who’s to say?

If Doolittle isn’t the greatest album ever made – and, frankly, it isn’t – it at least succeeds in briefly convincing you that it very well could be. There’s an ebullience and a forcefulness of feeling throughout that, in the moment, makes it seem as if it’s the only thing that could possibly matter in the world, as if it’s the only party you need to be at. And, make no mistake, Doolittle is a fucking party; just about the most generous, gregarious, fun record Pixies made. It emphasises the latent pop sensibility of Surfer Rosa, but not at the expense of the band’s idiosyncrasies and rough edges; Pixies remain as ferocious and strange as ever on Doolittle, but even the record’s most skeletal tracks (‘Mr. Grieves’, ‘Crackity Jones’, ‘Silver’), as well as those that play as dumb in-jokes (‘La La Love You’), invite you in with a compelling hook and/or a memorable moment. It is, in a word, infectious. And sure, nothing here throttles you quite like the opening of Surfer Rosa’s ‘Bone Machine’ – really, what could? – but it more than makes up for that by swinging and bouncing in a way that their debut never really does. As I said, it’s just about the best party, and why would you ever want to leave?

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