Pixies - Come on Pilgrim (Cover Artwork)


Come on Pilgrim (1987)


Ladies and gentlemen, let us introduce the essence of the pre-mainstream Pixies: using fragmented lyrics that are rather indecipherable, but of which utilize a fun personality that will make even the hairs on the back of your neck run to join in on the party in this cloud of noisy, alternative punk-pop aggression. Also propelled with yelping, screaming, wailing and chanting that is sometimes even shouted in Spanish, much like a language-confused banshee it may make you feel awkward and neurotic, all while getting you to dance around the room, charging full speed into the wall having finally uncovered a new kind of kick. This adrenaline rush always comes back when listening to this album; it comes in the shape of a pixie and has your first and last name, and like with Santa Claus it's your decision if it'll make you naughty or nice. Simply, it is impossible to not get into the Pixies. That is, as long as you are not fascist, a wife beater, part of the Ku Klux Klan or a Ronald Regan enthusiast. In other words, Pixie haters are just evil people, as this is a band that is special to many people's hearts, this writer obviously included. So, now you ask me to stop drooling and actually write the bloody review. Okay, no problem. Yet, first, something obviously needs to be said before I begin….

Because, whoa -- I know, I know-- talk about a gushing, nerdy, and overbearing introduction. Yet, I must admit, everyone has a few number of bands that got them into music. One of my bands back in my year was the Pixies. I must say, however, that although Come on Pilgrim may not be as "perfect " to me a few years later, and the album may not be as good as what they would accomplish in later, meatier records -- this record is still very, very dear to me, so it's a challenge to separate nostalgia from being an honest and fair critic. Yet, I will try my best.

Out from the shadowy corner of the once small underground cult movement of indie rock came the Pixies, a quartet from Boston, who with financial help from the father of their lead singer, Black Francis (who would later change his name to Frank Black when he went solo), recorded 17 songs that became known as ‘The Purple Tape.' Eight of these are found on Come on Pilgrim, their 1987 debut EP; many of the other tracks are available on different albums, and are also collected on a self-titled compilation.

Even when looked at by itself, Come on Pilgrim is a feat, throttling amongst bursting stop-go-and-explode stampedes of alternative power-pop with a healthy ode to the previous decades' punk rockers. This album is scary in its crooked delivery, and that alarming disarray factor is one of their more impeccable qualities, along with their clever and wicked antics. As the song "I‘ve Been Tired" says, it'll make you "want to be a singer like Lou Reed," but certainly would not make you want to "lose your penis to a whore with disease," unless of course it is the only way you could turn into a Pixie fan.

The first song, "Caribou," and the squally voice of Francis, amiss the splintery, albeit modest string instrumentals of lead guitarist Joey Santiago, bassist Kim Deal and the steady, clambering beat of drummer David Lovering, as well as the cries to "repent," make the listener know that this is not a usual day in the musical factory. The song tries for a feeling of didactic self-evaluation, yet the lyrics are impenetrable, even bad in the poetic sense. However, it's not about that; it's about turning the normal musical conventions around, and creating a song that is catchy, even if it is quite fragmented. Other songs have very memorable and playful lyrics -- for example, "Nimrod's Song" contains the winning lyric: "My sister held me close and whispered to my bleeding head, 'You are the son of a motherfucker.'"

Come on Pilgrim lassos you in with noisy dynamics, drawing you in with its instrument hooks. Yet, even if the sound is unique, admittedly it is also more loud feedback than sophistication, and the aforementioned "I've Been Tired" is really the only masterful song; the other tracks are good, but not great. "Vamos," however, would become another classic amongst their many when they redid it on their next album, Surfer Rosa.

20 years on and this indie album -- made before the term came a sugar-coated flavor of the week -- Come on Pilgrim is an enjoyable debut from one of rock's most consistent acts of the late 1980s / early 1990s period.