Pixies - Surfer Rosa (Cover Artwork)


Surfer Rosa (1988)

4 A.D./Elektra

Ah, the Pixies. Positively my favorite band, next to Weezer, Nirvana, Fugazi, and Slint. All personal data aside, the Pixies were, throughout the late '80s and early '90s, sonic innovators, and influenced a whole crapload of bands, some great, some pap. Led by multi-talented (and bi-lingual) singer Black Francis, they opened new doors and broke new ground with their hopelessly unique sound.

Okay, introductions, schmintroducti- ons, on to the music. Vamos!

"Recorded" by the infamously cranky, perfectionist--dare I say--"woman-hater" Steve Albini, and opening solidly with a bang with the pounding drums of "Bone Machine," Surfer Rosa never seems to let up. Following the male-female vocal harmonies and nonsensical lyrics that make up "Bone Machine" is "Break My Body," which seems to pick up where the superb imagery left off, with lines such as "break my body/hold my bones, hold my bones."

As if that weren't merciless enough, you also get to be beaten into submission by the pummeling, full-force drumming of the excellent David Lovering in "Something Against You," which also boasts some of the most distorted, filtered vocals this side of Ministry. Make any predictions yet? Good, cancel them, because you'll eat your words. "Broken Face" comes out of nowhere, with its lead-off schoolgirl falsetto and breaking tidal wave of a verse, which explodes right after you think "huh?" and melts the surprise right away, replacing it with dumb-found awe. "Gigantic" is a great showcase for the lovely Kim Deal, who sings lead, spouting off lines about, I suppose, a penis, and rolls thick-yet-melodic basslines, all holding together more of Black Francis's high-pitched background wails, Joey's psychotic leads, and David's huge wall of drums. "River Euphrates" has to contain one of the most haunting, eerie guitar melodies I have ever heard, cracked vocal harmonies to match, child-like, cryptic lyrics which are genius in context, and yet more precise, robotic drumming by Mr. David Lovering.

Opening a more somber vein is the damn-near-anthem masterpiece, "Where Is My Mind?," possessing haunting background vocals which carry the song through its central melody and a perfect orchestration among the members. "Cactus" pulls all of these moods together, and is minimalism if I've never heard it, with its relentless, machine-like drums and droning palm-muted guitar. "Tony's Theme" casts the band in another fun light, with its comic book-like lyrics and spoken tomfoolery by Kim. "Oh My Golly!" is Spanish AND English-sang, and has some crazy time signatures that seem to conflict with the vocals, beating against them with a stick. "Vamos!" is a song always played live, and was always a favorite among Pixies fans. With its freak-out, whinnying guitars and hyper-speed antics, it is sure to impress. "I'm Amazed" at first appears to be filler, but is filled with still more massive drumming, crazy lead work, and vague lyrics. "Brick Is Red" closes the album on a good note, as expected. It is hard to skip any track here, and the songs all seem to flow into one cohesive whole. A great full-length debut from one of the smartest, ingenuous bands of all time, in my humble opinion. Next to the Beatles, of course. But, I'm sure someone will bitch about this review, so I'll just say it right here: you who actually waste your time, griping, pissing and moaning about what is "punk" and what is not, should really do your research, here. Punk is about staying true to what you believe in, pushing the envelope, redefining, and ultimately setting fire to the foundations of everything tried and traditional. Punk, to me, is not simply what sounds punk to you, because that couldn't be further from the truth of punk rock. Generic "1-2-3-4" punk isn't punk in my eyes. I'm tired of elitist, 13-14 year-old "punks" who attack complete strangers on webforums, and generally think they know it all. And, yes, I respect free speech, but idiocy? Nah, I'll pass on that one. Yes, this is an open forum, but I just wanted to post this, as I know that some little asshole in a Pennywise or Rancid shirt will criticize my musical taste all to hell. I say this: Fuck you. Go home, throw on some NOFX, and cry, cry, cry, because I personally don't give two shits about your ignorant, rat's eye view of what punk rock is all about.