Music Features

Happy Anniversary... Doolittle

The best albums are ageless. The fact that so many of my favourite records were recorded when I was little more than a twinkle in my folks’ eyes is testament to that, and the fact that I can’t go more than a few weeks without listening to Ten, Grace, Blood Sugar Sex Magik or OK Computer (to name but a few) shows that despite the distorted cycles music goes through, true mastery prevails.

Doolittle has now been making waves of mutilation for 25 years, and it’s still as caressingly abrasive, nonsensically intelligent and as dangerously infectious as it’s ever been. The record is the only backdrop that could have possibly accommodated Black’s “stream of unconsciousness”, with his warped musings bypassing cryptic, and ultimately refining the darkest of themes (and the terminal outcrop of a stratified mind) into bite-sized chunks of breakneck catchiness. Pixies’ second record was the perfect, polished follow up to a brilliant debut LP, where the blueprint was drawn up and foundations were laid for a key influencer to inspire some of the greatest records to be recorded in its slipstream. There’s no secret, for example, to the fact Doolittle sculpted Kurt Cobain’s vision for Nirvana, in large parts. The record was and is a genuine game changer that came about at a time when 80s guitar music was over-glitzed and needed a makeover. The beauty lies in the simplicity - whether it’s in the form of a simple, fetching bassline, a single warped note or a whimsical, uplifting chord progression - Doolittle will have you hooked.

It’s a record that pulls no punches. The tracks race each other to an imaginary finish line for the most part, strengthening their hooks throughout. Iconic tracks such as Monkey Gone To Heaven and Hey are the perfect punctuation marks to have you catch your breath, only for it to be taken away again, and the mere presence of Kim Deal’s backing vocals is enough to amplify the tangibility hundredfold. Debaser is still, to this day, the best opening track on any LP ever recorded. The precarious balance of loud and quiet, and urgency and restraint is distilled into an edge-of-control frenzy from the outset, and typifies the inspiration that bands from Mogwai to Deftones have channeled into a career.

It’s safe to say that Doolittle will always be in any ‘favourite albums’ list I ever compile. The magnitude and range of genres explored within it are matched only by the magnitude and breadth of acts that recognized how much of a groundbreaking record this was ultimately going to be, channeling the eccentrically charming outpourings of Black into their own formulas that would become legend. Happy Birthday.