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Bossanova (Pixies album)

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Studio album by
ReleasedAugust 13, 1990
StudioCherokee (Hollywood)
Aire L.A. (Glendale, Calif.)
Silverlake (Hollywood)
Hansa Tonstudio (Berlin)
Master Control (Burbank, Calif.)
ProducerGil 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 US.

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 US, at No. 4 and No. 11, respectively.


After Pixies finished touring 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.[5] 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.[6]

Recording and production[edit]

Pixies started recording material for Bossanova at Cherokee Studios in February 1990,[7] 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.[8]


Black Francis wrote one of the songs on the album, "Blown Away", in Spain in early June 1989 while on tour.[9] 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.[10]

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.[11] 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."[12]


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.[13]

Critical reception[edit]

Professional ratings
Review scores
Entertainment WeeklyA−[16]
Los Angeles Times[17]
Rolling Stone[20]
The Village VoiceA[22]

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."[4]

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[edit]

All tracks are written by Black Francis, except where noted

Bossanova track listing
1."Cecilia Ann"The Surftones (Frosty Horton/Steve Hoffman)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



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


Chart performance for Bossanova
Chart (1990) Peak
Australian Albums (ARIA)[25] 68
Dutch Albums (Album Top 100)[26] 30
German Albums (Offizielle Top 100)[27] 27
New Zealand Albums (RMNZ)[28] 17
Swedish Albums (Sverigetopplistan)[29] 45
UK Albums (OCC)[30] 3
US Billboard 200[31] 70

Certifications and sales[edit]

Certifications and sales for Bossanova
Region Certification Certified units/sales
France (SNEP)[32] Gold 100,000*
United Kingdom (BPI)[33] Gold 100,000^
United States 281,000[34]

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


  1. ^ Law, Sam (July 8, 2020). "The 50 Best Albums From 1990". Kerrang!. Retrieved September 20, 2021.
  2. ^ "The 300 Best Albums of the Past 30 Years (1985–2014)". Spin. May 11, 2015. p. 3. Retrieved September 20, 2021.
  3. ^ a b Whatley, Jack (August 13, 2020). "Pixies 'Bossanova' album ranked in order of greatness". Far Out Magazine. Retrieved September 20, 2021.
  4. ^ a b c Staunton, Terry (August 11, 1990). "Wiggy Stardust". NME. p. 32. Archived from the original on March 9, 2000. Retrieved August 29, 2015.
  5. ^ Frank; Ganz, p. 172–73
  6. ^ Frank; Ganz, p. 174
  7. ^ Manfred Upnmoor: The Pixies: Interview mit Black Francis. In: Zillo magazine, Germany, September 1990.
  8. ^ Frank; Ganz, p. 174–75
  9. ^ The Diary of Black Francis. In: Melody Maker, 23 December 1989.
  10. ^ Michael Ruff: Pixies: It's Only New Wave But I Like It! In: Spex magazine, Germany, August 1990.
  11. ^ Frank; Ganz, p. 175
  12. ^ Frank; Ganz, p. 176
  13. ^ [1] Archived December 25, 2008, at the Wayback Machine
  14. ^ Phares, Heather. "Bossanova – Pixies". AllMusic. Retrieved January 25, 2012.
  15. ^ Dolan, Jon (December 2008 – January 2009). "Pixies: Bossanova". Blender. Vol. 7, no. 11. p. 86. Archived from the original on August 29, 2010. Retrieved August 29, 2015.
  16. ^ Sandow, Greg (August 17, 1990). "Bossanova". Entertainment Weekly. No. 27. Retrieved January 25, 2012.
  17. ^ Willman, Chris (August 26, 1990). "Pixies 'Bossa Nova' 4AD/Elektra". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved November 14, 2015.
  18. ^ Powell, Mike (April 25, 2014). "Pixies: Catalog". Pitchfork. Retrieved April 25, 2014.
  19. ^ a b Snow, Mat (September 1990). "Queasy". Q. No. 48.
  20. ^ a b McCormick, Moira (September 20, 1990). "Bossanova". Rolling Stone. Retrieved January 25, 2012.
  21. ^ Brown, Russell (September 1990). "More Songs About Girls and Weirdness". Select. No. 3. p. 92.
  22. ^ Christgau, Robert (October 23, 1990). "Consumer Guide". The Village Voice. Retrieved August 29, 2015.
  23. ^ "Select End Of Year Lists". www.rocklistmusic.co.uk. Retrieved 13 April 2017.
  24. ^ Dimery, Robert; Lydon, Michael (2006). 1001 Albums You Must Hear Before You Die: Revised and Updated Edition. Bloomington, Indiana: iUniverse. ISBN 0-7893-1371-5.
  25. ^ Ryan, Gavin (2011). Australia's Music Charts 1988–2010 (PDF ed.). Mt Martha, Victoria, Australia: Moonlight Publishing. p. 219.
  26. ^ "Dutchcharts.nl – Pixies – Bossanova" (in Dutch). Hung Medien. Retrieved September 4, 2022.
  27. ^ "Offiziellecharts.de – Pixies – Bossanova" (in German). GfK Entertainment Charts. Retrieved September 4, 2022.
  28. ^ "Charts.nz – Pixies – Bossanova". Hung Medien. Retrieved September 4, 2022.
  29. ^ "Swedishcharts.com – Pixies – Bossanova". Hung Medien. Retrieved September 4, 2022.
  30. ^ "Official Albums Chart Top 100". Official Charts Company. Retrieved September 4, 2022.
  31. ^ "Pixies Chart History (Billboard 200)". Billboard. Retrieved September 4, 2022.
  32. ^ "French album certifications – Pixies – Bossanova" (in French). Syndicat National de l'Édition Phonographique. Retrieved April 16, 2019.
  33. ^ "British album certifications – Pixies – Bossanova". British Phonographic Industry.
  34. ^ "The Record: Unfinished Business". Capital Public Radio. February 3, 2015. Retrieved April 16, 2019.