"Allison (song)" redirects here. For the Elvis Costello song, see Alison (song).
Studio album by Pixies
Released August 13, 1990
Recorded 1989–1990 in Los Angeles at Cherokee Studios, Aire and Silverlake; in Berlin at Hansa Ton
Genre Alternative rock, space rock, surf rock
Length 39:45
Label 4AD
Producer Gil Norton
Pixies chronology
Trompe le Monde

Bossanova is the third album by the American alternative rock band Pixies, released in August 1990 on the English independent record label 4AD in the United Kingdom and by Elektra Records in the United States. All of Bossanova's original material was written by the band's frontman Black Francis; it marked the point where his artistic control over the band became absolute. The album's sound, inspired by surf and space rock, complements its lyrical focus on outer space, which references subjects such as aliens and unidentified flying objects.

Because of 4AD's independent status, major label Elektra Records handled distribution in the United States; Bossanova reached number 70 on the Billboard 200. The album peaked at number three in the UK Albums Chart. Two singles were released from Bossanova, "Velouria" and "Dig for Fire"; both charted, at #4 and #11 respectively on the US Modern Rock Tracks chart.


Background and recording

After the Pixies finishing touring obligations for their second album Doolittle (1989) in 1990, band members Black Francis, Joey Santiago, and David Lovering moved from Boston to Los Angeles. Bassist Kim Deal did not initially move with the rest of her band mates due to tension within the band. Deal ultimately decided to travel out to Los Angeles with the rest of the group.[1] Lovering stated that he, Santiago, and Black Francis moved to Los Angeles because that's where they intended to record. The three band members lived in the Oakwood apartments, along with comic Garett Morris and members of the band White Lion. Producer Gil Norton also moved into the apartment complex.[2]

Pixies started recording material for Bossanova at Cherokee Studios, where the sessions ran into problems. Norton said that nothing could be recorded after six P.M. because the recording desk would pick up pirate radio stations. Norton decided to work at overdubs somewhere else for a few days until the problem was corrected, but when he returned to Cherokee, he found that any time something was plugged into a guitar amplifier it would generate "this incredible hum". Norton refused to tell 4AD owner Ivo Watts-Russell about the problem until he felt he could address the problems. One day while visiting a bar, Norton and Santiago met producer Rick Rubin, whom they informed of their situation. Rubin had his secretary find another studio for the group, and the band continued recording at Master Control.[3]

In contrast to previous records, many songs were written in the studio and few demo recordings were created. Santiago said that the band only practiced for a two-week period, in contrast to previous practice in Boston where the group rehearsed constantly.[4] Black Francis noted, "So I was writing [lyrics] on napkins five minutes before I sang. Sometimes it's good, sometimes not. That's just the nature of that songwriting."[5]


The album was released in August 1990 on 4AD in the UK, and jointly by 4AD and Elektra in the USA. After 4AD re-acquired sole distribution rights for the Pixies' back catalog, a re-issued CD (although not remastered) appeared solely on 4AD in the USA in 2004. Mobile Fidelity Sound Lab released a version in 2008 that was remastered from the original analog master tapes.[6]

Critical reception

Professional ratings
Review scores
Source Rating
Blender 5/5 stars[7]
Allmusic 4.5/5 stars [8]
Rolling Stone 3/5 stars [9]
Robert Christgau (A) [10]

The UK reviews of Bossanova were generally positive. Q's Mat Snow, in his September 1990 review of Bossanova, said "the Pixies are masters of the calculated incongruity," and commented that "they give other rockers an object lesson in the first principles of how it should be done."[11] NME noted that the album's production "leans towards the harsh garage grunge of Surfer Rosa, although the songs retain the strong melodies of Doolittle," and said that "Bossanova is the composite Pixies LP."[12]

Rolling Stone gave Bossanova three out of five stars. In comparison to the previous albums, reviewer Moira McCormick described Bossanova as "more of a straight-ahead rock album—by the Pixies' standards, meaning it's still safely off the mainstream".[13]

Track listing

All songs written by Black Francis, except "Cecilia Ann", which was written by Frosty Horton and Steve Hoffman.

  1. "Cecilia Ann" – 2:05
  2. "Rock Music" – 1:52
  3. "Velouria" – 3:40
  4. "Allison" – 1:17
  5. "Is She Weird" – 3:01
  6. "Ana" – 2:09
  7. "All Over the World" – 5:27
  8. "Dig for Fire" – 3:02
  9. "Down to the Well" – 2:29
  10. "The Happening" – 4:19
  11. "Blown Away" – 2:20
  12. "Hang Wire" – 2:01
  13. "Stormy Weather" – 3:26
  14. "Havalina" – 2:33


Sales chart positions

Chart (1990) Peak position
Billboard 200 70[citation needed]
UK Album Chart 3[citation needed]
Single Chart (1990) Peak
"Dig for Fire" Modern Rock Tracks 11[citation needed]
"Velouria" Modern Rock Tracks 4[citation needed]


  • Frank, Josh; Ganz, Caryn. Fool the World: The Oral History of a Band Called Pixies. Virgin Books, 2005. ISBN 0-312-34007-9.


  1. ^ Frank; Ganz, p. 172–73
  2. ^ Frank; Ganz, p. 174
  3. ^ Frank; Ganz, p. 174–75
  4. ^ Frank; Ganz, p. 175
  5. ^ Frank; Ganz, p. 176
  6. ^
  7. ^ Dolan, Jon. "Bossanova — Blender". Blender. Retrieved 2009-06-14. 
  8. ^ Allmusic Review
  9. ^ Rolling Stone Review
  10. ^ Robert Christgau Review
  11. ^ Snow, Mat. "The Pixies — Bossanova". Q #48. September 1990.
  12. ^ Staunton, Terry. "The Pixies — Bossanova". NME. August 1990.
  13. ^ McCormick, Moira. Doolittle review. Rolling Stone. September 20, 1990. Retrieved on June 30, 2009.

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