I See You Beneath The Archway of Aerodynamics: Trompe Le Monde Turns 30

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Pixies – Trompe Le Monde

Released September 23rd, 1991 on 4AD Records

Produced by Gil Norton

Peaked at #7 U.K., #92 U.S.

Singles:

Planet Of Sound” (#27 U.K.)

Alec Eiffel

Letter To Memphis” (#6 U.S. Alternative)

Head On” (#6 U.S. Alternative)

A prophet is not without honor save in his own country. The Nazarenes wouldn’t listen to Jesus and the U.S. wouldn’t buy the Pixies. The Nazarenes were skeptical of hometown weirdos and in a sense this was the problem with the Pixies as well, outside of the college radio circuit. Over in the U.K., though, they were bona fide stars. Like the Strokes, who crossed the pond in the early 00s and ignited a musical revolution, the Pixies were embraced and widely imitated. By the mid-90s the retcon had it that it was Nirvana that had introduced the youth to wild dynamics and heavy guitars, but before they got their grubby little hands on Nevermind they were buying up records like Doolittle and Bossanova in droves.

Trompe Le Monde is the final album of the Pixies’ original run. It’s hard to say that it’s their best, even though it’s an extremely good album. Surfer Rosa and Doolittle are such major touchstones of the alternative nation that the nod almost has to be given to one of them by default. It has a great collection of songs, with some of their absolute best in “Motorway To Roswell”, “Planet Of Sound”, “U Mass” “Subbacultcha”, and “Alec Eiffel.” Listening to it, you wouldn’t know the internal tensions that were even then tearing them apart. After opening up for U2 on their 1992 Zoo Tour, they ‘went on sabbatical.’ In 1993 Frank Black broke up with them in the most Frank Black way possible – he announced it mid-interview with the BBC and then told the others by fax.

Later, belatedly, North America came around on the band after all the hip new indie bands selling soft verses and loud choruses – grunge dynamics – would get compared to the Pixies. They’re counted now as one of the big touchstones for modern rock, but try telling that to mainstream audiences in their late-80s heyday.

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