Trompe Le Monde

Pixies

4AD/Elektra Records, 1991

http://www.pixiesmusic.com

REVIEW BY: David Welsh

ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED: 07/23/2003

The Pixies. Anyway you look at it, they were a truly seminal band. In fact, that term does not do them justice. The Pixies, it seems, were playing a different ballgame from every other band out there at the time. Through Black Francis' almost unbelievable songwriting, the Pixies packed a severe punch, landing four incredible albums in a short amount of time, and then, they were no more. It is the opinion of many that the Pixies are found at their best in material from their first two albums proper -- Surfer Rosa and Doolittle. Indeed, Trompe Le Monde, their fourth and last album, is often ranked as their worst (if such a term can be used -- there are no bad Pixies songs, it's that simple).my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250

Trompe Le Monde is, however, a truly magnificent album. Though Black Francis essentially allowed no other creative input by this time, the album is simply stellar (no pun intended). The sound is somehow more complete that in previous Pixies albums, and although this can lead one to believe the songs by this point were far from striking impulsive, Trompe Le Monde is a collection of 15 remarkable tracks.

Subject matter revolves largely around Francis' obsession with science fiction, specifically alien encounters. "Planet Of Sound" recounts a trip to another world, "Alec Eiffel" reveals the Eiffel Tower to be a space rocket, "Lovely Day" tells of infatuation with an extra-terrestrial lady, and "Motorway To Roswell" remembers a close encounter of the third kind. One can be forgiven for assuming these tracks, given their subject matter, are laughable. The Pixies, however, with delightful riffs and awesome imagery, paint a truly vivid picture.

Album highlights include "U-Mass," an ode to the University of Massachusetts, which makes an infectiously catchy impression with overdiven, choppy guitar and some frankly demented vocals. "Letter To Memphis" makes an appearance at last, having been in the Pixies repertoire since the early days, and evidently does not lose any impact. Who else sings of a letter from Egypt from a former life? Additionally, Trompe Le Monde captures the band with some mature and sedated tracks in the form of "Bird Dream Of The Olympus Mons" and "Navajo Know." Their musical ability extends to much slower and less dynamic songs here, and goes some way to extending their legacy.

It is said that Trompe Le Monde was met with a lukewarm reception upon its release because, very simply, nothing was ever going to live up to their first two albums. Importantly, however, it is also said that had any other band released this album, they would have been hailed beyond belief. It is no exaggeration to say that innumerable bands' best does not even come close to the weakest songs on Trompe Le Monde, allegedly the Pixies' weakest album. Forget what you think you know and live with Trompe Le Monde for a month. It will change the way you look at music.

Rating: A

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© 2003 David Welsh and The Daily Vault. All rights reserved. Review or any portion may not be reproduced without written permission. Cover art is the intellectual property of 4AD/Elektra Records, and is used for informational purposes only.