Artist Spotlight: Pixies
by Dan Weiss | January 17, 2014
One of the most important and influential pre-Nirvana alternative bands, the Pixies came together like chocolate and peanut butter when a classified was placed for a bassist that was into "both Husker Du and Peter, Paul and Mary." Whatever their interpersonal drama -- alt legend in her own right Kim Deal recently quit the band again and differences both personal and musical seem to hang in the air -- together these U-Mass bohemians have created some of the most compelling and bizarre alt rock. Their 1987 debut, the ragged Come on Pilgrim, gave way to the fast and catchy, Steve Albini-produced Surfer Rosa-- an album that's come to redefine what "fast and catchy" means, with Kim Deal's well-known valentine "Gigantic" and the warped scuba-diving account "Where Is My Mind?", alongside head thrashers like "Break My Body," "Broken Face" and "Cactus."
A year later, the more polished and schizoid Doolittle presented them at both their most manic (on the demented, Dali-inspired howls of "Debaser") and their most wistful and melodic ("Here Comes Your Man"). Next came the spacier Bossanova, arguably their finest full collection of songs despite band tensions and weirdo detours like the surf instrumental opener ("Cecilia Ann") and eerie tunes like "Is She Weird" and "Ana." By the time they exited with the strong but quixotic Trompe Le Monde, they barely sounded like a major-label band -- or even much of a band at all -- even though "Subbacultcha" and "Palace of the Brine" were as weird and funny as ever.
Deal went on to form the equally important Breeders with her twin sister, Kelley, and Black Francis became Frank Black for a mildly successful solo career that's still prolific to this day. The band reunited in 2004 to tour and release the occasional one-off (check out their version of Warren Zevon's self-destructing "Ain't That Pretty at All"), but Deal exited yet again in 2013. Still, the Pixies are back releasing new material with EP1 and EP2, the latter of which provides arguably two of their best songs ever -- the slyly galactic Bossanova callback "Magdalena" and the college radio hookmonster "Snakes." A third EP is expected to follow.
1987: Come on Pilgrim
1988: Surfer Rosa
1991: Trompe Le Monde
2001: Complete B-Sides