The Breeders’ Last Splash: A 30th Anniversary Reflection | Mailee Phan
One of the most influential albums to come out of the post-punk and grunge movement, Last Splash combines the talents of band members guitarists Kim Deal of Pixies and her sister Kelley Deal, bassist Josephine Wiggs of Throwing Muses, and drummer Jim Macpherson. With this lineup, an alternative classic was created, one that stands strong in its tonal range and stylistic experiments on the year of its 30th anniversary.
The album begins explosively with “New Year”, arguably the song with the highest amount of musical variances in the EP, as it starts with harsh, distorted strikes of the guitar before leading into a more steady rhythm. The song sprinkles frantic picked guitar sounds on top of the already complex integrations of each instrument to create an amplified feeling of frenzy, serving as the perfect introduction to the surprising approaches to the ensuing tracks.
Following “New Year” comes “Cannonball”, the band’s most famous song. With one of the most recognizable basslines of this era in music, “Cannonball” reflects not just Kim Deal’s prowess as lead singer, but the band’s collective harmony as accompaniment to her iconic rasp.
Perhaps most overlooked, however, are the tracks that serve to connect the sound between songs as it changes over the course of the album. The almost lazy, meandering tone of “Invisible Man” serves as easy-listening on its own, but when taken in the context of the rest of the album operates as the perfect transition from the explosive sound in “Cannonball”, to the calmer, more melancholy feel of “No Aloha”. Again with “Flipside”, a solely instrumental track, the rises and falls of volume and energy are aided by continuous, a driving bassline, and dynamic drumming that subtly pick up as the song plays.
After the seemingly critical tone of “I Just Wanna Get Along”, comes an extension in theme with “Mad Lucas”. The track takes on a relaxed style with a slow bassline reminiscent of Lou Reed’s “Walk on the Wild Side” with screeching, shaky guitar riffs to accompany the persisting disdainful attitude in lyrics like “You’re a nuisance, and I don’t like dirt”. The lighter feel of the track aids with jump into “Divine Hammer”, a representation of the brighter side of the genre, and another showcase of the band’s harmony together and artistic scope of abilities.
The second to last track, a cover of folk band Ed’s Redeeming Qualities’ “Drivin’ on 9”, reflects the revolution of the band around the Deals. The cover not only showcases Kim’s vocal ability to transition from a deeper rasp to a lighter and sweeter sound, but reflects the sisters’ synergy as a musical duo given their start in music playing acoustic sets for dingy bars during their youth. Restating their newfound sound, the album ends in a similar place to where it started with “Roi (Reprise)”, creating a package of broadly ranging tone and experimentation contained within itself.
Overall, this album perfectly encapsulates the explosiveness of the grunge scene during the early 90s, and remains one of the most noteworthy releases at the peak of the post-punk movement.