Smash Your Head On LAST SPLASH

Noah smashes his head and bares his soul to The Breeders' sophomore album. 

FULL DISCLOSURE: One of our compatriots, Mr. Scott Weinberg, recently tweeted, “‘Writer’s block’ is just a nice way of saying ‘crippling depression.’” Nary has such an observation been so apt. While This Author has been busy traversing the country and globe hawking his wares (read: dick), the real reason you haven’t read much of The Kid lately is that he’s been a little doldrummy. Is it the existential malaise of his third decade descending upon him with only a handful of accolades, just a few seminal films and but nary scores of beautiful women to show for it? Is it the impending dread of waiting for a new season of Broad City? Is it the fact that he’s been accidentally taking a multivitamin formulated for elderly women recently? We may never know, dear reader, but here’s hoping that my bummer is your funner.

When I was twelve years old, just starting my budding career as a smoker, when I was all Dickies workwear and chain wallets, I met Her. Like reading that famous “Fuck You” on the wall, my folks knew they’d be lucky if all they got was a little Holden, so they sent me to an after-school “youth group.” It was run by a 20-something bohemian chick and comprised of no more than a half-dozen kids, ranging from potential delinquents like myself to antisocial kids on the Asperger’s Spectrum to Her. She was cousins with the lady who ran the thing, and some of Her close family had just passed away tragically, which were both probably reasons She was there. But you’d never know it. She was the coolest, in beat-up white sneakers and flannel shirts and glasses. All your Daniel Clowes dreams came true around Her, while you tried to figure out whether you were a “Telly” or a “Casper”. She was smart and aloof and I fell in love. I knew all of that as soon as I realized She rebuffed me, not quite saying She didn’t like-like me while deftly avoiding my after-after school advances. She held my hand one time.

I pined and pined, to no avail. It lasted a couple years, on-and-off, at which point I made for drugs and The Coast and my own Woody Guthrie fantasy that just led to a bunch more drugs and lots of The Coast. A few years later, I was beat up, I was thrown out, I’d been shown up, I’d grown up, but I wasn’t down. That’s a different article. With my tail (read: dick) between my legs, I ran back to Jew York, to the Motherland, to the safety of knishes. I got a little apartment in a border-neighborhood above a laundromat that always smelled like fabric softener, since I was hung out to dry. I was seventeen and haggard, with the Turn of the Century upon us, the optimism of The Internet and even a couple planes still circling the skies above Lower Manhattan. She’d been in boarding school for a couple years and was segueing into college. We met. Gone was the chubby, bespectacled boy with bad musical taste and a Level 23 Paladin on a local M.U.D. Before Her stood a legitimate graduate from the School of Hard Knocks. She liked what she saw and we got together. It was maybe a month of us hanging out, traversing Central Park like a Medieval stagecoach in the days when you’d just as soon get a shiv for your MiniDisc player as hear a poetic lonely trumpeter.

Just as quickly as my boyhood fantasy had come to fruition, She was off, to spend a semester abroad overseas. We had email, we had love (maybe?), but She wasn’t in touch. Just as ethereally as She’d reentered my life, She was gone. The planes crashed, the calendar flipped over, and The Coast called again for this new guy, the one who loved the American New Wave and dressed like a cowboy. We’d meet again, a few times, sporadically over the years, becoming the kind of friends that don’t talk often but nuzzle when they do.

My big sister, with her impeccable taste and early '90s Indie Rock Credentials, had turned me on to The Pixies. The Breeders were Kim Deal’s next deal, rising from the ashes of Art Punk into a melodic early example of that obtuse catch-all, Alternative. The video for “Cannonball” was seared in our minds, a warning of what was to come from Adam Spiegel and a seal of approval from Queen of the Scene, Kim Gordon. The song itself is a rambling mishmash of catchy phrases belying a whole slew of singsongy hooks. You’ll be hard-pressed to find as many addicting melodies jam-packed into a jam. Deal’s on record saying the song is partially inspired by The Marquis de Sade, but you can probably guess “The bong in this Reggae song” are just the rantings of true rock and rollers that can’t be fucked with. Combine such bold absurdity that’s impossible to keep from rattling around your noggin with their look, a combination of cleaned-up tomboys and '90s thrift-store chic, and you’ll see the inception of Weezer, The Strokes and Bright Eyes.

Within “Last Splash” is a venerable cornucopia of anthems. Be careful what you wish for, bro. “I Just Wanna Get Along,” a fuzzy classic Punk song, is literally the exact opposite of its title, in true spirit. “Divine Hammer,” with its singalong, saccharine sweetness is really a call-to-arms for druggies around the world, even if the obvious interpretation from a band called “The Breeders” would be a feminist shutdown. By the time “Drivin’ on 9” comes on, you might just ask whether they’re actually messing with you, or if we really feel like we can relax into the mandolin Americana as they pluck your heart strings with breathy romance. “Roi,” which bookends the album, feels like Deal and Company had to answer to all The Pixies' fans with an experimental diatribe, but they also manage shoutouts to Sonic Youth and Patti Smith for good measure.

During that short stint together, that last splash of adolescence, She’d play “Do You Love Me Now?” over-and-over, as if there was some key to our relationship in it. Literally, there was. From those first few notes, played in sync with the lyrics, the song ramps up, like a love affair about to cum, tentatively. There was prescience. “Does love ever end, when two hearts have torn away? Or does it go on, and beat strong anyway?” It was as if She was trying to warn me, to fulfill a tragedy that I didn’t see coming. Romantically, I just went right back to the place I was when She didn't want me to begin with. In retrospect, it’d be nice to think She saw the romantic tragedy of that song, but all I heard was the end, “Come on back to me right now.” And with every subsequent love lost and gained in that order, I still do.  

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