Pixies - Surfer Rosa

The Pixies are best known for being the band that basically set the alternative revolution in motion in the late 80's. Ironically, they aren't that well known at all. While they achieved substantial success in the UK, often playing arena-sized shows in England, their talents and exploits were never fully recognized in the one place where they should have been. Maybe the US just wasn't ready. Be as it may, the Pixies made a lasting impact on underground as well as popular music.

Perhaps the most important release from the Pixies, if not for its musical innovation, then for its cultural impact, would have to be Surfer Rosa. Several of their early gems can be found on this album, and it serves as a showcase of a young band that still had numerous possibilities open to them. It happens to be their first full-length effort, made after the debut EP Come On Pilgrim. Not only that, but it was also produced by the ubiquitous Steve Albini, who was able to supply the band with the extra oomph their guitars needed.

The record opens with an excellent example of Black Francis' quickly evolving style of morbid and strange songwriting, "Bone Machine". A few songs later, Francis and lead guitarist Joey Santiago lay down a couple of scathing tracks with blistering guitar work - "Something Against You" and the more pop-oriented "Broken Face". Listeners finally reach an intermission when they get to track five, "Gigantic". Bassist Kim Deal (known as Mrs. John Murphy on the first two albums) supplies maybe the poppiest selection on the album with a catchy bassline and soft, flinty vocals.

The next highlight is track seven, "Where is My Mind". Regarded as being the most popular Pixies song, maybe a little less so than "Gigantic", this song is an extremely catchy acoustic track with Black Francis on vocals singing about what appears to a be hopeless mental condition. Turns out that this song is just toungue-in-cheek fun and provides the listener with an even clearer view of Francis' distorted writing style and themes.

The rest of the album is filled with various odds and ends, some more enjoyable than others. While some of the album teeters on the edge of abrasiveness and tedium, none of the songs ever reach the point of becoming unlistenable. The Pixies really had their harsh style of pop down, even this early in their career. Surfer Rosa makes for an intense and fun record, and was extremely innovative for it's time. In fact, most of their stuff remains surprisingly original, and anyone who has never heard this band before owes it to themselves to give a listen.


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