Bossanova (Pixies album)

Studio album by
Released August 13, 1990
Recorded 1989-1990
Studio Cherokee, Hollywood
Aire L.A., Glendale
Silverlake, Hollywood
Hansa Tonstudio, Berlin
Master Control, Burbank
Length 39:45
Producer Gil Norton
Pixies chronology
Trompe le Monde
Singles from Bossanova
  1. "Velouria"
    Released: July 16, 1990
  2. "Dig for Fire"
    Released: October 29, 1990

Bossanova is the third studio album by American alternative rock band Pixies. It was released on August 13, 1990 by English independent record label 4AD in the United Kingdom and by Elektra Records in the United States. Because of 4AD's independent status, major label Elektra handled distribution in the U.S.

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 on the Billboard Modern Rock Tracks chart in the U.S., at No. 4 and No. 11, respectively.


After Pixies finished touring obligations for their second album, Doolittle (1989), in January 1990, band members Black Francis, Joey Santiago, and David Lovering moved from Boston to Los Angeles. Bassist Kim Deal stayed in the UK to record the Breeders' first album in January with producer Steve Albini, although she ultimately decided to travel out to Los Angeles with the rest of the group.[4] Lovering stated that he, Santiago, and Francis moved to Los Angeles because that's where they intended to record their next album. The three band members lived in the Oakwood apartments, along with comic Garrett Morris and members of the band White Lion. Producer Gil Norton also moved into the apartment complex.[5]

Recording and production

Pixies started recording material for Bossanova at Cherokee Studios in February 1990,[6] where the sessions ran into problems. Norton said that nothing could be recorded after 6 p.m. because the recording desk would pick up pirate radio stations. Norton decided to work on overdubs in another studio 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 it. One day while visiting a bar, Norton and Santiago met producer Rick Rubin and informed him of their situation. Rubin had his secretary find another studio for the group, and the band continued recording at Master Control.[7]


One album song, "Blown Away", had been written in Spain in early June 1989 while on tour.[8] The song was recorded with producer Gil Norton, who was specially flown in for the one-song session, at Hansa Tonstudio in Berlin, after their June 19 concert there.[9]

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 albums, when the band would rehearse constantly in Boston.[10] 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."[11]


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 Pixies' back catalog, a re-issued (although not remastered) CD appeared solely on 4AD in the US in 2004. Mobile Fidelity Sound Lab released a version in 2008 that was remastered from the original analog master tapes.[12]

Critical reception

The UK reviews of Bossanova were generally positive. In his September 1990 review of Bossanova, Q's Mat Snow said that "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."[19] Terry Staunton of 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."[17]

In comparison to the band's previous albums, Rolling Stone 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."[20]

UK magazine Select made Bossanova their album of the year for 1990.[23] The album was also included in the book 1001 Albums You Must Hear Before You Die.[24]

Track listing

All tracks are written by Black Francis, except where noted.


Chart (1990) Peak
Australia (ARIA Charts)[26] 68
New Zealand (RIANZ) 7
United Kingdom (Official Charts) 3
United States (Billboard 200) 70

Certifications and sales

Region Certification Certified units/sales
France (SNEP)[27] Gold 100,000*
United Kingdom (BPI)[28] Gold 100,000^
United States 281,000[29]

* Sales figures based on certification alone.
^ Shipments figures based on certification alone.



Additional musicians

  • Robert F. Brunner – theremin ("Velouria", "Is She Weird")


  • Gil Norton – producer
  • Alistair Clay – engineer
  • Steven Haigler – mixing
  • Jack Benson – assistant engineer
  • Gregg Barrett – assistant engineer
  • Moses Schneider – assistant engineer
  • Andrew Ballard – assistant engineer
  • Scott Blockland – assistant engineer
  • Howie Weinberg – mastering
  • Vaughan Oliver / V23 – design
  • Chris Bigg – design assistance
  • Pirate Design – artwork
  • Anne Garrigues – artwork
  • Simon Larbalestier – photography
  • Kevin Westenberg – photography