The Pixies will always win over Nirvana for their complete no-fucks-given attitude to the music industry. Most people think grunge is heavy, therefore it must be dirty and loose (like the Stooges or the Stones). Nirvana proved this wrong, because they were one tight, ‘in the pocket’ band in the studio, and that’s part of why they became commercially successful. The Pixies, on the other hand, are completely manic both in the studio and live, and this is why they were less successful and incidentally (or not) a better rock ‘n’ roll band.
Doolittle, their second record, starts off with a punk bass line, until the band’s fuzzy guitar cacophony breaks out of its cell. Then proceeds some sublime thrashing on top of which Black Francis shouts about a Luis Buñuel art house movie he once saw. If the listener weren’t aware of the high artsy regard the works of Luis Buñuel were held in, he might think ‘slicin’ up eyeballs/ooh ahh ahh oahh” was some violent fantasy from a thrash metal song. They follow in the Lou Reed school of blending avant-garde art with rock ‘n’ roll; poetry with urban dirt; literary modernism with rough guitar, etc. They are cultured wackos then, like the New York Dolls, Iggy Pop and various other well-read sleazoids. They’re not snobs, though: bassist Kim Deal joined the band after answering an advert in the Boston Phoenix requesting a bassist who liked both Hüsker Dü and Peter, Paul and Mary in equal measure. They’re even weirder, though because Black Francis doesn’t peddle the usual sex, drugs and rock ‘n’ roll ambiguity: he prefers to talk about boxcars and other assorted things of brilliant mundanity. I like that.
Anyway, the best moments on Doolittle will make you effervesce in awe of its sheer ragged glory, and flail yourself within an inch of your sanity. Good rock music, then.
7.5 Ethereal Monkeys out of 10
Here’s ‘Here Comes Your Man’, which should answer your the question that I know has been troubling you since I mentioned it: What happens when you mix Hüsker Dü and Peter, Paul and Mary?…