The standout single off the Ohio outfit’s sophomore record “Last Splash” did a number on listeners, but the buzz around the band started well before 1993, and swells into the present day. The Breeders still make a splash, as concertgoers will no doubt testify later this month when they show up at Rose Park to hear the band play Summerfest.
The Breeders began as a vehicle for two of alt-rock’s most valuable band members: Pixies bassist Kim Deal and Throwing Muses guitarist Tanya Donelly. Bassist Josephine Wiggs joined the fold before 1990’s debut “Pod,” an album author Neil Gaiman recalls fondly in a bio on The Breeders’ website.
“Pod is a sequence of songs that come towards you, unstoppable, not needing to be liked. Not to be anything except themselves, glorious in their emotional flatness,” he writes.
Donelly was on her way out with Deal’s twin sister, Kelley, and drummer Jim MacPherson joining the lineup in time for “Last Splash.” That set extends The Breeders’ initial vision. Crashing ahead with all the dark, cloudy guitars of their peers, they also bob and weave in more experimental directions, especially in terms of rhythm and dynamics.
“Last Splash”-era songs are decidedly sexy in a fashion that probably seemed unsexy at the time. No pop sheen or cute come-ons. Just good, old-fashioned double entendres electrified, then sealed with a wink.
The Breeders followed their rocksteady success by recording just a pair of albums in the 2000s. Both 2002’s “Title TK” and 2008’s “Mountain Battles” feature big drums, maverick melodies, exotic detours and patented Deal family harmonies.
The band took another decade between projects, its most recent offering coming in 2018 with “All Nerve.” As Gaiman notes, the album’s arrival — and its artful substance — felt as natural as could be.
“It’s not retro, it’s not 90’s, it just is what it is: smart rock music with a Breeders sound and an oblique Breeders point of view,” he wrote.
Marked by killer songwriting that leans into, but never simply duplicates, its signature sound, the record “is one of the band’s finest blends of sugar and swagger, space and noise,” Heather Phares wrote for AllMusic.
“All Nerve lives up to its name: the Breeders’ one-of-a-kind toughness and vulnerability are the heart of their music, and that it’s still beating strong is cause for celebration,” she added.
The Breeders show up on their own clock, but exactly when they’re needed, Phares notes in her review of “All Nerve.” 2022 listeners could stand to splash around in The Breeders’ deep, rocky pools. Thankfully, the band always sounds primed and ready to dive right in.
The Breeders play Rose Park at 8 p.m. Aug. 12; tickets are $35-$40. Visit https://rosemusichall.com/ for more details.
Aarik Danielsen is the features and culture editor for the Tribune. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org or by calling 573-815-1731. Find him on Twitter @aarikdanielsen.