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In the alternative rock family tree, a big fat line runs from the Pixies directly to the chart-smashing noise pop and grunge that Nirvana broke with in 1991. Surfer Rosa, the Pixies' 1988 full-length debut of skronked-out, surf-damaged punk-pop, was a revelation to just about everyone who heard it. At first listen the remedial chord progressions, utterly nonsensical lyrics, and bizarre delivery sounded like the flailings of inept college rockers with a psychotropic casualty for a lead singer, but once the hooks were in, there was no escape. The Bostonians reminded everyone how to write a perfect, repetitive song that you knew by heart two seconds in. With wonder-twin powers Black Francis and Kim Deal writing paeans to sexually charged dementia, an idiosyncratic guitar sound, and what sounded like the Jolly Green Giant playing drums, the Pixies took the alt-rock world by storm, releasing four near-perfect records before self-destructing under the weight of their own talent, in 1993, after opening U2's Zoo TV tour. In their wake, Deal went full-time with her side-project the Breeders and began working on Last Splash, which would eventually go gold in the U.S., and Black -- as Frank Black -- starting penning a solo eponymous debut, which didn't fair so well. In 2004 -- with disparate and storied careers -- Deal, Black Francis, Joey Santiago and David Lovering reunited for a North American tour and several dates at European summer festivals. The group is currently rumored to be working on a new studio album, the first since 1991.
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