Last Splash [30th Anniversary Edition]
It’s hard to overstate what a huge deal it was when Pixies re-formed in 2003 following a roughly 10-year break. With the band’s legacy having strengthened immeasurably thanks to their outsize influence on Nirvana and alternative rock in general in the previous decade, the band delivered one of the biggest Coachella comebacks to date at that point the following year. Fans marveled seeing Frank Black once again share the stage with fellow guitarist/vocalist Kim Deal, to whom he’d previously and mythologically faxed a white slip marking her termination and the Pixies’ demise.
In the nearly 20 years since that performance, the sheen of Pixies 2.0 has worn off demonstrably (outside of their still-entrancing live show). Deal once again left the band, whose post-reunion discography—as well as the timespan of their second act—now amounts to more than it did when Pixies were originally around. The diminished returns on this new material is perhaps best evidenced recently by the short shrift that a previously unreleased 1993 track co-written by Deal and Black, “Go Man Go,” drew upon its release earlier this year.
Putting aside the Magic 8-Ball for a moment, however, Pixies’ fading from view has—once again—provided an opening for Deal and her successive project The Breeders to get their just desserts. The small-scale, tiny-sounding band from Dayton, Ohio, is once again in the spotlight courtesy of this 30th anniversary edition of their breakthrough record, Last Splash. This version—which is eclipsed by the bonus-track-heavy deluxe edition from 10 years ago—contains the aforementioned Deal/Black co-write “Go Man Go,” along with an unearthed cover of Last Splash single “Divine Hammer” by collaborator J Mascis of Dinosaur Jr. and an alternate mix of the full LP. More importantly, it’s an entry point for latecomers to the alt-rock revival to get what all the fuss was about (see: “Cannonball,” the irresistibly bouncy radio single that was far more mainstream than any Pixies song ever got to be during their first run).
Breeders fans may be justified in rolling their eyes at yet another new edition of Last Splash as the alt-rock era begins to see the same milk-it-dry treatment that previous generations got with reissues of their favorite records—even in light of the band’s historical relevance as a pioneering smash hit within the male-dominated history of the genre. But no matter which side of the argument they took, all Breeders fans collectively cheered when they played Last Splash in full earlier this year at the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame, and when Dave Grohl joined Deal onstage for a cover of Pixies’ “Gigantic.” While the onstage collaboration showed that the latter band still outweighs The Breeders in terms of legacy, the fact that it came during a Breeders show opening for Grohl’s Foo Fighters—themselves with a legacy that will never be outmatched by their predecessors, Nirvana—spoke volumes.