As you know, here at Penta it’s in our character to get a little nostalgic from time to time. We love to take a trip down memory lane and revisit a movie or an album, or anything really that triggers memories and emotions. With that in mind, this month we are diving into a masterclass in alternative rock from the 1990s. Celebrating its 30th anniversary this year, we are very happy to revisit the unique and influential album that is Last Splash, by The Breeders.
Having started the band as a side project towards the end of the 80s, Kim Deal formed The Breeders giving herself the creative freedom that she perhaps lacked in her “main” band Pixies (also a Penta favourite!). After releasing their debut album which was critically well received, the break-up of Pixies and the addition of Kim’s twin sister Kelley to the band, would see The Breeders write and release the album that would catapult them to stardom.
Not only did it sell millions of copies though, it also achieved the rare feat of being loved by critics as well as fans. In fact, that remains the case to the present day really, with the album often popping up in best albums of the 90s lists and receiving glowing reviews when the album celebrated its 20th anniversary.
For an album written three decades ago, Last Splash is a record that somehow remains timeless but also manages to perfectly encapsulate a snapshot of the 90s and the alternative music scene that was so popular back then. It’s unique nature in terms of genre, production, instrumentation and style, means that this is an album that rewards you even more the more you listen to it.
The songs are short, sharp, and catchy, with great melodies and driving rhythms but beyond that they are also full of wit, humour, and emotional depth. The production of them is kept raw and unpolished, which brings a gritty charm, but somehow, they remain focused and clear. All of this results in an album that feels accessible and experimental at the same time. There are unquestionably poppy moments, but as a listener you will be kept on your toes by the way the songs twist and turn.
Perhaps just as important as the critical and commercial success of Last Splash, is the influence it had on other artists. Bands like Sonic Youth, Nirvana, and The Smashing Pumpkins all point to The Breeders as an influence. That being said, this is an album that transcends the world of Indie and Alternative music, fun fact – the guitar in “S.O.S” was sampled and looped by the Prodigy in the song “Firestarter”.
It’s almost impossible to focus on just one track from this album, many would understandably go straight for lead single and mega hit ‘Cannonball’. Whilst it is an amazing song, we’ve pushed ourselves outside the box when thinking about something for this month’s Penta Sounds playlist. “Drivin’ on 9” is actually a cover of a song by a band called Ed’s Redeeming Qualities (the band of Carrie Bradley who played the violin parts on Last Splash), but it is just too good for us to overlook.
It is one of the album’s more relaxed and chilled moments, and its gentle folk influence means it perfectly matches our theme of Lazy Days. This is a song you can imagine listening to in the car whilst driving in the sun, but it’s not a driving song. It’s a cruising song.
Thirty years after its release, "Last Splash" remains a landmark and ground-breaking album. It's a record that captures a moment in time, a snapshot of a band at the height of their powers that aren’t afraid to take risks and push boundaries. It's also a record that transcends its time, that still sounds fresh and exciting today. If you haven't listened to it in a while, do yourself a favour and give it another spin. If you've never heard it before, give it the time and you will be rewarded with an album that might end up being one of your favourites.
Still credits: “ New Year ”, uploaded to YouTube by The Breeders