The Breeders

Cannonball

Song Review by

This euphonious rocker would become the Breeders' biggest commercial success as the first single from the group's sophomore LP, Last Splash. "Cannonball" would be picked by both English music weeklies Melody Maker and NME as song of the year and would help propel the album (along with the subsequent release of "Divine Hammer") to eventual platinum status. An infectious blend of indie pop and grunge rock, the song conveys an effusive energy, balancing quirky hooks with a gushing power, supporting playful, goofball lyrics that perfectly deliver the song's sense of unhinged, freewheeling fun. The song's odd beginning manages to instantly grab the listener's attention and foreshadows the "anything goes," feel-good energy to follow. The track opens with singer and main songwriting force Kim Deal testing the mic in distorted voice, "Check, check, one, two," against beeping feedback, overlaid by a similarly distorted vocal harmonizing: "Wah-ooh ooh/Wah-ooh ooh." Drummer Jim Macpherson then taps out the rhythm with metallic clicking on snare rim and cymbal stand, signaling the start of the song's trademark bubbling and slithering bass line. Tension surmounts expertly, drums and bass hooking up in the song's bounding, rhythmic romp, while a woozy, slithering guitar lick saunters above with coy inebriation until the low crunch of down-and-dirty guitars takes over. Squealing, high guitar feedback sounds before the introduction of the vocal melody at almost a full minute into the tune, Kim Deal cooing the song's slyly humorous lyrics, "Spitting in a wishing well/Blown to hell...crash," with the band pulling to a short stop for Deal to invoke the album's title, "I'm the last splash." The quirky arrangement contains frequent dynamic pauses somehow without dampening the song's relentless, rollicking momentum. Deal delivers the tune's repetitive verses with a seductive, peek-a-boo shyness that aims to please: "I know you, little libertine/I know you're a cannonball/I'll be your whatever you want/The bong in this reggae song." The band powers to the next level for a jubilant chorus, signaled by pelting snare rolls from Macpherson, unleashing new layers of guitar distortion, with Deal's distorted telephone vocal shouting: "Hey now, hey now/I want you Koo Koo, Cannonball." The stuttering, start-and-stop transition then evens out into an infectious melodic hook of sweetly layered vocal harmonies, with Deal and company repeating the line: "In the shade/In the shade." The song effectively employs a false ending, pausing for a full measure then slamming into the chorus and slipping in another full verse/chorus go-round before screeching to a halt.

Appears On

Year Artist/Album Label Time AllMusic Rating
Last Splash 1993 4AD / Elektra 3:33
Cannonball 1993 Elektra 3:36
Triple J Hottest 100 1994
Various Artists
3:35
Rage the Album 1999
Various Artists
EMI Music Distribution 3:35
MTV the First 1000 Years: Rock 1999
Various Artists
Rhino 3:35
Ladder 49 [Original Soundtrack] 2004
Original Soundtrack
Hollywood 3:35