In 1993, I gave Last Splash by The Breeders 12/12, a Hot Press double six, as indicated in the final para of this brief review. The powers that be in HP were like: nope—this is a kid. (I was.) But they didn’t remove the line saying why I couldn’t deduct any points (“this record was made with such an enviable sense of big-hearted gay abandon that only the most mean-spirited reviewer could find fault with it”). I hadn’t been and am still not into Pod (where my ‘hobby band’ comment came from), despite ‘Happiness Is A Warm Gun’ and ‘Fortunately Gone’. I have gone long periods since 1994 without listening to Last Splash because, you know, I heard it hundreds of times and there is new stuff coming out all the time and life is short, but my wife and I played it in the car this week and I was stunned if not surprised by how great it still sounds. Like ‘Divine Hammer’, which I played as a guest on late night 2FM at age 19 when asked on the Mike Moloney show because I was apparently a very young hack. Like ‘No Aloha’, ‘Mad Lucas’, Saints’ (“Sooey and saints”!), ‘I Just Wanna Get Along’, and ‘Do You Love Me Now’, which I get now more then I did then and which, in the car on the N7, furnished the title of my Julia Jacklin piece a few days ago.
Every hero bores us at last – Ralph Waldo Emerson.
If it’s journalistic objectivity you want, you’ve come to the wrong place.
You see, I’ve idolised Kim Deal since before my first encounter with a potty, especially since I met her on the 1st October 1990, when I was young, free, single and utterly in awe of the Pixies, and I was strolling up south Circular Road and she was strolling down South Circular Road and I didn’t see her until she was five yards away and only just had time to wrench the words “Hi Kim” from my suddenly dry throat and she took a second out of her life to reply “Howya doin’?” to ME and later that evening she played a storming gig and managed to lift me out of the rather deep depression into which I had been recently lowered by a stunning blonde girl who probably doesn’t know who she is if she’s reading this and how could I not love her for that?
I also love her for ‘Gigantic’ and ‘Tame’ and ‘Alec Eiffel’ and ‘Into the White’ and now, with her almost identical twin Kelley and Jo Wiggs and Jim McPherson, for Last Splash. Pod was generally regarded as being little more than a piss-up on vinyl by a “supergroup for the cultural margins,” two indie superstars with day jobs and too much free time. Now Tanya Donelly is gone and the Breeders is Kim Deal’s day job and she has made an album so warm, so liberating, so exploding with a huge lust for life that it makes you glad the Pixies bit the dust.
Steve Albini’s absence from the producer’s chair contributes handsomely to this record – several of these songs would no doubt have been rendered unlistenable by him. The likes of ‘Divine Hammer’, an exquisitely harmonic and quite thrilling three minutes of angelically salacious girlie-pop (“I’m just looking for one divine hammer/I’d bang it all day/Oh the carpenter goes bang/Bang bang”, sung in the style of a less winsome Susannah Hoffs), wouldn’t have got by his no-taste police without a serious frisking. Neither would ‘Do You Love Me Now?’, a straight-faced, lyrically Spector-esque crush song (“Do you think of me/Like I dream of you/You’ve loved me before/Do you love me now?”) or the penultimate track ‘Drivin’ On 9′, a mournful, fiddle-infested love song which wouldn’t have been out of place on Fisherman’s Blues only it’s far too seductive.
Elsewhere, the going gets more cryptic but no less compelling. ‘New Year’ and ‘Cannonball’, for example, make you wonder whether the lyrical obtuseness is meant to give the listener a chance to participate in the creative process or if it’s because our wordsmith only had two days left in the studio and thought ‘Oops, I’d better get cracking’, and strung together her two hundred favourite words out of the Concise O.E.D. But those guitars, those hooks, those devastating melodies, that irresistible Dayton, Ohio-accented voice… Inarticulacy beckons.
I was going to deduct one mark for the surfeit of instrumentals, but then I thought about it and, honestly, this record was made with such an enviable sense of big-hearted gay abandon that only the most mean-spirited reviewer could find fault with it. Two things are for absolutely sure: this hobby band has made a classic album, and Ralph Waldo Emerson never heard of Kim Deal.