Trompe Le Monde (Pixies)
Numbered Edition 180-gram LP Sourced from Original Master Tapes
The Pixies verged on commercial breakthrough when the now-iconic band released Trompe le Monde in September 1991. A sea change in popular music tastes that the band helped initiate began to sweep the world. And the Boston quartet seemed prepared to lead the way, with this, its eminently tuneful fourth record, jam-packed with crafty hooks, prickly tones, catchy elements, outer-space atmospherics, electrically charged energy, and delightfully quirky lyrics.
As it stands, Trompe le Monde takes its place as one of the finest swan songs ever recorded. If the Pixies wouldn’t have broken up right after its release, there’s no telling what would’ve happened. All that you need to know is that the 15-track effort is as hard rocking and brilliantly innovative as any of the group’s creations. That’s no small feat.
Mastered from the original analog tapes and pressed at RTI, Mobile Fidelity’s numbered edition 180g LP presents the ensemble’s abrasively melodic landmark in a fidelity it’s never enjoyed in any prior version. Featuring lusher keyboards and moodier soundscapes than its predecessors, but also reclaiming the nasty guitar edginess and swooning distortion of the group’s earliest efforts, Trompe de la Monde finally comes across as the Pixies intended: A sonic bridge between college-rock’s influential cruder-textured albums and the polished professionalism that distinguished alt-rock classics.
In other words, Mobile Fidelity’s version presents it as the perfect-sounding album: Replete with grit, rawness, and character, but mixed in with radio-friendly smoothness and virtuosic professionalism. Awash with incredible timbres and tonalities, myriad new details rise to the surface. Listen to the counterpoint melodies and layered vocals on “Letter to Memphis”; the trash-compactor feedback and thumping bass during the whipsawing “Planet of Sound”; the “Spyhunter”-like pace and limitless depth now present on “Subbacultcha.” Dynamics, contrasts, low-end frequencies, and imaging are all significantly enhanced. Compared to the original CD, Trompe le Monde emerges as a new album—a sonic wonderland that’s not far removed from that of Nirvana’s celebrated blockbuster Nevermind.
Musically, the Pixies were never better. On par with the groundbreaking Surfer Rosa and Doolittle, Trompe le Monde explodes with hyper riffs, jerks to stop-start progressions, elates with cheerful emotions, and bangs on to giddy surf-fused arrangements. With Kim Deal absent from the songwriting process, vocalist/guitarist Frank Black takes the reigns and doesn’t disappoint. Tales about sea monkeys (“Palace of the Brine”), aliens (“Planet of Sound”), and love (“The Sad Punk”) bop alongside memorable jabs at hipster pretensions (“Subbacultcha”) and inflated egos (“U-Mass”). A contagious cover of the Jesus and Mary Chain’s “Head On” will have you hitting “repeat.” Power pop, wanderlust punk, theatrical glam rock, reconfigured reverb-laden country—all here, all encouraging repeat listens.
Nearly lost due amidst the alternative trend that it played such a key role in spawning, Trompe le Monde gets new life courtesy of this extremely punchy, greatly balanced Mobile Fidelity issue. If you missed it the first time, don’t make that mistake again. Essential with a capital “E,” and the perfect way to close Mobile Fidelity’s Pixies catalog restoration series.
The Pixies Trompe le Monde Track Listing:
1. Trompe le Monde
2. Planet of Sound
3. Alec Eiffel
4. The Sad Punk
5. Head On
7. Palace of the Brine
8. Letter to Memphis
9. Bird Dream of the Olympus Mons
10. Space (I Believe In)
12. Distance Equals Rate Times Time
13. Lovely Day
14. Motorway to Roswell
15. The Navajo Know