The Breeders - LAST SPLASH

I wish that I had bought Last Splash a few months ago. I guess I should have procured this album when it was released seventeen years ago. Either way, I could have been jamming to this tawdry, eclectic batch of songs all summer long. It was made to be cranked on the Fourth of July. This is a seasonal affair in the same way that Immortal's At the Heart of Winter is a seasonal affair. The latter brings hypothermia and snow-capped ridges to mind, while the former conjures up images of beach towels and volleyball nets. Well, for the most part. The Breeders do have a mean streak. Lest we forget; we are knee-deep in Deal territory.

If you're not familiar with the Deal sisters, shame on you. Once upon a time, Kim was a member of The Pixies. She launched a side project to stay limber in between album cycles. She was joined by her twin sister Kelly, and thus, The Breeders were born. Last Splash was their second full-length studio recording. It's buttressed by "Cannonball," one of the most overplayed hit singles of the 90's. I can't go any further without talking about this tune. Did I get sick of it when I was in Elementary School? You bet. But is it a great little ditty? A thousand times, yes! The slinky bass line, the explosive chorus, the playful lyrics...it's fucking killer, which is why it's still played on modern rock radio.

Unfortunately, most people didn't take a chance on the rest of Last Splash. It's their loss. This album is a coy peregrination through grunge, surf rock, bratty punk, ambient noise, lo-fi indie/garage rock and even country music. The arrangements are just as unpredictable as the blithe genre hopping that the Deal sisters enjoy experimenting with. Leadoff track "New Year" is almost metallic in its delivery. Those riffs are nuclear. "No Aloha" is a tranquil standout that makes me want to move to Hawaii. "Roi" is a dense, feedback-laden curveball. I love it, as it cements Last Splash as a largely inaccessible long player. It's proof that The Breeders didn't go to MTV; MTV came to The Breeders.

At first, I had trouble warming up to this record. It requires repeated listens. There is a certain aspect of the production that I must file under "cons." It's far too quiet. It's not uncommon for older CD's to sound - for lack of a better word - soft, but Last Splash is softer than soft. For instance, listen to the rhythm section on "Divine Hammer." The song itself is infectious, but it seems like the drums are being played in a building across the street. They barely exist. I can't tell you if it's the mixing or the mastering because I'm not an audio technician. All I know is that something is off. Of course, that doesn't change the fact that Last Splash is worth owning. What in the blue hell happened to mainstream rock?

No comments:

Post a Comment