These are the underwater guys who control the sea. (L to R: Santiago, Francis, Deal, Lovering)
"If man is five
Then the devil is six
And if the devil is six
Then GOD IS SEVEN!"
—Pixies, "Monkey Gone to Heaven".
"We can play loud or quiet - that's it." "In 1988, the Pixies sounded like no other band. By 1991, every band sounded like the Pixies."
—bogoslav, contributor to RateYourMusic.com
Another highly influential 1980s Alternative Rock
band that reached a moderate level of popularity but enjoyed widespread critical acclaim. Famous fans include: Isaac Brock
, Kurt Cobain
, David Bowie
, PJ Harvey
, and Bono
, among others.
The band's members are guitarist/vocalist Black Francis, bassist/vocalist Kim Deal, guitarist Joey Santiago and drummer David Lovering. Their musical style is distinguished by its fusion of Surf Rock
melodies with Punk Rock
aesthetics and (later on) Psychedelic Rock
influences, being capable of both earwormyness
and brutal aggression.
Pixies' recording career started in 1987 with the release of the Come on Pilgrim
EP on British label Four AD Records
. They released four more albums on the same label (with Elektra Records handling them in the US, starting with Doolittle
) until officially disbanding in 1993 due to exhaustion after supporting U2
on the Zoo TV tour and intra-band tension, mostly over Francis marginalizing the others' contributions
(especially Deal's). Francis changed his name to Frank Black and started a solo career, Deal found success with The Breeders
, Santiago worked in soundtracks and his band The Martinis and Lovering alternated drumming with a hobby as a magician. The band reunited in 2004, took a hiatus in 2007, re-reunited in 2009 and is still touring today.
Despite the name, there is no Manic Pixie Dream Girl
in the band, though Kim Deal's fans may beg to differ. Joey found the word in a dictionary, and they liked it enough to use it as a band name.
Their discography's length is inversely proportional to its influence:
- Come on Pilgrim EP (1987): A sort of "teaser" for their actual career, produced by Gary Smith. One of its tunes, the Spanish-language-wrecking "Vamos", was re-recorded for the next album.
- Surfer Rosa (1988): Their raw Grunge album, produced by Steve Albini, with probably the largest predominance of more "comedic"/light-hearted tunes in their catalogue, like the goofy "Tony's Theme", the Bilingual Bonus "Oh My Golly!" (which contains the Title Drop) or the comic malevolence of "Something Against You". Source of the band's first single, "Gigantic", notable for being written and sung mainly by Kim Deal (before Francis' ego kicked in), and the word salady meditation on fish behaviour "Where Is My Mind?", which somehow became very popular for movie soundtracks.
- Doolittle (1989): Where they hooked up with Gil Norton, who stuck with them for the remainder of their career. Has a more polished production, slightly more nightmarish in spots especially when Francis showcases his awesome lungpower ("Debaser"), contains their Black Sheep Hit "Here Comes Your Man" and the offbeat ballad about pollution "Monkey Gone to Heaven", which provides the page quote. This was their first album after a deal with signed with Elektra Records, who would distribute their albums in the USA while 4AD handled the UK. Deal doesn't get a tune for herself, but she sings lead alongside Francis on "I Bleed" and "Silver", provides plenty of backing ones ("There Goes My Gun", "Monkey Gone to Heaven", "Hey"), and Lovering got prodded into singing "La La Love You".
- Bossanova (1990): Recorded after the band and Norton moved to Los Angeles, this is the album where Francis took complete control of the band and marginalised Deal (no cowrites or lead vocals; she's largely relegated to backing vocals on the choruses of "Is She Weird", "Ana" and "Havalina"). A much shinier, heavily Surf Rock-influenced effort ("Cecilia Ann") whose lyrical obsession with space and UFOs complements its Psychedelic Rock sound. Contains the successful single "Dig for Fire", "Velouria" (famous for its slapdash, slow-motion abusing video) and some of their mellower material ("Ana", "Havalina"). It got their best chart performance in the UK (#3), while Elektra's resources meant that they started getting extra attention back home.
- Trompe le Monde (1991): Maintaining the shiny spacey sound of the previous effort but much more Heavy Metal-influenced (Francis attributed this to recording next door to Ozzy Osbourne), showcases the band at their most Badass (the furiously fast "Planet of Sound", the "Head On" cover, the cowbell-fortified Take That "U-Mass"), while making enough room for melodic ("Bird Dream of the Olympus Mons") and mellow material ("The Navajo Know"). Former Pere Ubu keyboardist Eric Drew Feldman contributes keyboards and went on to collaborate with Francis and PJ Harvey.
- Complete 'B' Sides (2001): Exactly What It Says on the Tin. Well, almost: it's missing two live performances.
Tropes used by Pixies: