1991: I was in high school and fortunate to be riding the wave of rock’s late capitalism manifestation in real time: I owned Trompe Le Monde as a cassette tape, and can still remember unfolding the cover and staring at the artwork of the blue eyeballs peering out from the ridges of what was either the cliff of a deep sea mountain or alien terrain. Most fans seem to feel that while a great album, Trompe Le Monde doesn’t match the stature of Surfer Rosa or Doolittle, but I like all the Pixies albums and they constantly switch places with each other as my fave. Perhaps because of the spiritual and psychological importance of the time in which it was released, Trompe Le Monde holds a special place in my heart. I remember listening to it and thinking that something big was happening, that a whole world and way of being based on the vibe of a certain sound was going to take over everything. The production on the album is so tight, cuz its filled to the brim with each sound and barely able to contain it. The guitars are all wailing distortion, Frank Black’s yowl sounds like a fire and brimstone preacher condemning everyone to hell. This ability to turn harmonies into something abrasive was a whole new way of being punk that was really starting to take off. You saw it in college rock bands like R.E.M. and the whole grunge scene out in the pacific northwest. Tho purists in each camp probably wouldn’t be inclined to agree (although a year later Chuck D. would proclaim that “Nirvana was hip-hop”) I felt the same fuck-off spirit in hip-hop, the same creativity from out of destruction ethos—a piecing together of beauty using samples and records and guitar licks over crazy lyrical turns. This was a world that felt familiar—a world of TV and comic books and science fiction and aliens with Spanish words and screaming thrown in so that I could only make out the edges of phrases—filling in the blanks with my own versions of words: they fit so well I felt like the songs were inside me. Ultimately, what makes a pop lyric beautiful is its quality of being about everything and nothing at the same time.

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