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.
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.
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.
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.
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.