This Breeders article was written by Nick Palmer, a GIGsoup contributor
Kurt Cobain once said of this record, “It’s an epic that will never let you forget your ex-girlfriend.” It certainly makes it very hard to forget Kim Deal, the musician responsible for most of this brilliant debut. In 1989, Deal was a songwriter in a band which didn’t want what she had to offer. Pixies’ Black Francis (aka Francis Black, aka Charles Thompson IV) had written all of the songs on debut, Surfer Rosa, bar one, Deal’s surprisingly popular ‘Gigantic’, a cheeky number about a lady enamoured by a man’s ‘Big, big love’. On the next album, Doolittle, all Deal had was a co-writing credit on ‘Silver’, and a B-side called ‘Into The White.’ She was in need of an outlet.
She got one when she assembled some musicians, including Tanya Donelly, who was in a similar situation to Deal with Pixies in the band she founded with Kristin Hersch, Throwing Muses.
‘Glorious’ opens Pod with more brooding frustration than Pixies ever achieved. Where Black Francis is brilliant at conveying outright rage and madness, Deal quietly seethes, sarcastically bragging, ‘On my own on Saturdays, it’s glorious.’ Ratty guitars punctuate her frustration, skittering over Josephine Wiggs mopey bassline and Britt Walford’s (credited as Shannon Doughton in the sleeve notes, jokily making The Breeders into a girl band) parched drums.
One of the best Beatles covers ever jumps out a couple songs later, ‘Happiness Is A Warm Gun’ is a fantastic take on the classic. Deal belts out ‘Mother superior jumped the gun,’ whilst the drums and bass pound behind her, but then holds it all back for John Lennon’s loudest part, only whispering ‘Happiness is warm gun,’ as the instrumentation drifts on behind her.
Things liven up a little more with ‘Hellbound’, a more straightforward rock song and probably the catchiest song on the album, but it doesn’t get any less weird, with Deal repeating ‘Down, d-down, d-down,’ over a lone bassline.
‘Iris’ (no, not the cheesy Goo Goo Dolls hit) begins quietly, with Deal singing over a hazy guitar, before exploding into ‘What a book she wri-i-i-ights,’ as a very Joey Santiago-esque (lead guitarist of Pixies) guitar sounds off.
Pod is closed by ‘Metal Man’, probably the strangest song of a strange bunch. Bass player Josephine Wiggs splashes a little Brit onto the album, beginning the song by talking about a pickup truck in her English accent. The song is relatively quiet, comprised of Deal and Donelly’s duelling acoustic guitars, but something explodes right in the middle, as the guitars, drums and bass all storm in, in the most punk rock eight seconds you’ll ever hear, then they’re gone as quickly as they came. It’s a bit of a cock (or rock, hoho) tease, but it’s a brilliant blast of Deal’s anger, before she composes herself again.
The Breeders would go onto far greater commercial success with their second album Last Splash, in 1993, largely riding on the back of ‘Cannonball’, but Pod remains theirs and Kim Deal’s finest moment.