In honor of Kim Deal’s all-around awesomeness (and the brand-new Breeders album, Mountain Battles), it’s Kim Deal Appreciation Day here at Warped Reality.
Hindsight is 20/20, and it seems pretty damn clear in retrospect that the dissolution of the Pixies had a great deal to do with Kim Deal’s effortless ascension into her own spotlight.
Deal slowly but surely came to ground the group’s wilder flights of fancy: her driving, concise basslines and honeyed vocals stood out as the unerring calm to Black Francis’ jagged, pitch-black squalls. It was this finely calibrated balance, ironically enough, that pulled the Pixies back from the brink more than once, reining in their frontman’s hyper-kinetic abrasiveness and pushing their peculiar, often surreal sound into the stratosphere. But it also pulled the group apart, sowing the seeds of jealousy and miscommunication.
When Deal (predictably) went off on her own to found the indie supergroup the Breeders, it seemed inevitable that she’d finally become a star in her own right. And, in what was a thrilling triumph of substance over style, she did just that, scoring a genuine hit with “Cannonball” off of 1993’s Last Splash. The year punk broke. Smash your head on the punk rock. Ka-ching!
That New Year’s Eve, the Breeders triumphantly rang in the New Year on MTV, Kim Deal’s gleeful insouciance that much cooler because it seemed so wonderfully genuine. No stylists made her over. You’d never catch her yo-yo dieting. She scribbled out stray gray hairs with Sharpies. She smoked and drank and made snarky (unprintable) comments. And through it all, she played music as head-bangingly glorious as it was fizzy and sweet —propulsively giddy, jagged little pop rocks.
It’s been a whirlwind since then, but after numerous ups and downs —including lineup changes, rehab stints, and (Pixies) reunions— the Breeders are back.
And it’s about time.
The last time I saw them was in San Francisco, circa Title TK. While the beer onstage had been replaced by Starbucks, and Kim was no longer able to stick her cigarette between the frets in her guitar to smolder away between songs (damn smoking ordinances), that did little to dim the group’s high-wattage enthusiasm. They were more than ready right out of the starting gate, equal parts sloppy and genius. After all, it’s one of Kim’s many virtues that she’s never exactly on point —she (and, consequently, the group) are always a little off. But that’s perfect too—it suits her to a tee.
Here’s to you, Kim.
The Breeders, “We’re Gonna Rise” (from Mountain Battles, 2007)
the Breeders, “Overcome” (with Carrie Bradley, from the Pod demos)
the Breeders, “Head To Toe” (co-written by Diana Senechal)