Sci-fi nursery rhymes, gigantic slabs of guitar, radio-friendly weirdness–that’s what the Pixies traffic in these days. Bossanova, the band’s new record, is crammed with ear candy for the discriminating college set, a percolating jumble of hyped-up Bowie-isms, Jetsons-esque sound effects, and that big, real big guitar sound the band likes so much: guitar chords falling like boulders, the solos lassoing sensitive bones in your inner ear and then drawing taut. And it’s all set in an enviably clean–sparse, really–production that just reinforces the band’s angular, metallic sound. What the songs signify, though, I don’t know. Their last record, the riveting, sui generis Doolittle, was an opera about ecocatastrophe (set to rising guitar chords and muffled screams), but Bossanova is lyrically impenetrable; it’s as if leader Black Francis, who’s always insisted his songs mean nothing, has been going overboard to make the point. I’m beginning to believe him. The band’s last show in Chicago, more than a year ago, was kind of a drag; all I saw was an insolent college rock band that could barely trouble itself to go through its paces. Better reports, however, have been forthcoming over the ensuing year; this show should be more fun. Monday, 7:30 PM, Riviera Night Club; 769-6300.

Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): photo/Kevin Westenberg.