While it wasn’t one of the singles released for their new album, the Pixies’ track “Silver Bullet” is representative of the themes and musical styles found in “Beneath the Eyrie”.
Last week, we took a long overdue break from covering classics and oldies, and began looking at some of the new album and single releases coming out. We’ll be continuing that trend this week, by looking at some of those album releases that came out last Friday. We’ll be listening to a new one each day, and try to find our favorite song or an overlooked track.
Today, we’ll be looking at the Pixies’ new album, “Beneath the Eyrie“, which was released on September 13th. Last week, we reviewed one of the singles released for the album, “Catfish Kate”. Now, after listening to the entire album, we’re ready to review our favorite song from it, “Silver Bullet”.
But before we get too far ahead of ourselves, let’s first take a quick look at the album itself.
Beneath the Eyrie
“Beneath the Eyrie” is the Pixies seventh studio album, and their third album without bassist Kim Deal. Despite what some outspoken fans may think, the Pixies are doing just fine with her replacement, Paz Lenchantin.
Recording for “Beneath the Eyrie” took place in an old church converted to Dreamland Recording Studios. During the process of writing the songs for the album, the members of the Pixies immersed themselves in an environment infused with Gothic energy, which then carried over to each and every song.
As we saw last week with the review of “Catfish Kate”, both the music and the lyrics were affected by the Pixies’ plunge into the Gothic. Francis Black’s storytelling reaches new heights, at times resembling a tale straight from the Brothers Grimm, while at others resembling nothing familiar at all. It’s as if the Pixies were keeping themselves up all night, telling ghost stories to one another for inspiration.
“Silver Bullet” contains within it many of the elements found throughout “Beneath the Eyrie”. These include themes of death, lyrics with strong visual imagery, and a balance between apathetic foreboding and manic energy.
The song begins with soft, reverb-soaked surfer vibes driven by Santiago’s guitar and Black’s voice. Over the first minute and a half, the music slowly builds, finally exploding in a back and forth between machine gun drums and Santiago’s distorted, screeching guitar.
Fans of the early Pixies’ records like “Surfer Rosa” and “Doolittle” will appreciate the return to their roots. But songs like “Silver Bullet” seem more refined and controlled, somehow. Maybe it’s their lyrics, or the aged sound of Black’s voice. Or maybe it’s that this is what an older band looks like when it competes with its own legacy, and measures up to it.
The lyrics in “Silver Bullet” are too good to pass up. While at times it can be hard to follow a linear story, the imagery by far makes up for it. Take a look at the second verse if you need convincing.
“I walked along the coral snow
I saw some lights, an old hotel
The bell was rung, the glasses filled
That cloudy drink that blackens bile”
A college writing professor could take only this stanza and spend a whole class lecturing on how it’s a stellar use of descriptive language. Notice that each line evokes an image, while also keeping the momentum moving through the heavy use of verbs. Another great stanza comes later.
“You said at last ‘Let’s have a duel
Out by the pines, the day is warm’
I played the fool and when it passed
The gadflies swarmed and then they dined”
Here’s another great example of strong, clear writing. The last line here doesn’t tell you explicitly what happened, but we all instinctively know due to the use of imagery. And if your instincts aren’t great, try out your powers of deduction. Sherlock would be proud.
While “Silver Bullet” might not be the most exciting song to be found on “Beneath the Eyrie”, it stands as of now as a personal favorite, and one that may go unappreciated by too many. But don’t sleep on this track. I’ve had it on repeat for the past fifteen minutes and it’s only gotten better with each listen.
That about does it for our discussion today. I hope you enjoyed listening to the Pixies’ “Silver Bullet” from their new album “Beneath the Eyrie”. We’ll be back tomorrow with another song of the day to help get you through the week.