Sunday Punk Fix: The Pixies

The Pixies are perhaps one of the greatest success stories in music of all time. Formed in 1986 in Boston, the band were relatively successful, but never really hit it big. The world just wasn’t ready for the stream of fantastic albums that The Pixies spewed forth. Inter-band pressures increased, and the band broke up in  1993. That is a giant euphemism. Black Francis (singer, guitar) and Kim Deal (bass) absolutely hate each other. You can’t blame her though; Black Francis notified her of the bands breakup by fax. Even though they’ve reunited, it states in The Pixies’ contract that Kim Deal and Black Francis have different green rooms. All the hate aside, The Pixies didn’t really become one of the biggest bands in punk music until after their breakup, and the explosion of the alternative rock scene. Only then was their music truly appreciated. Any band who has made it in the past 20 years will cite The Pixies as an influence, from Nirvana to Pavement, from David Bowie to The Strokes. Even Thom Yorke from Radiohead, one of the most shy men in music, came out of his shell to say that The Pixies changed his life. This is can probably be attributed to The Pixies style: strange, shouted uncaring lyrics, about a variety of topics from an acid trip to aliens, over poppy guitar riffs. The Pixies weren’t trying to be punk, but they came out that way. They wanted to blend a whole mix of styles, but in the end, they will remain one of the greatest punk bands of all time.

10. Bone Machine: The heavy handed, scale approach to the song seems like a step ladder that goes up, down and all around. It’s hard to focus on a particular aspect of the song, and it seems so haphazard and random. Then , almost reassuringly, Kim Deal and Black Francis chorus “Your bones got a little machine” over complete silence and pause, before the song returns to it’s rambling ways. Pretty classic Pixies.

9. Debaser: A cry for revolution! Very pop, as the separate riffs all fold into each other and form a cohesive head bopping single riff. Even Black Francis’ heavy handed and rough voice can’t cut through the sheer infectiousness of the song. The song has a very surf rock tone to it, as if it was being played in a garage in Venice Beach.

7. Dig For Fire: The song seems to be a little less focused, and more produced. It’s like they were trying to reach a more mainstream appeal and audience. This is probably due to the intense relationships the band had during the recording of Bossanova. Although seemingly constructed for radio, Dig For Fire holds an innocent and naive feel to it, like the Pixies just churned it out without a whole lot of effort, and it has a wholesome vibe.

6. Gigantic: Big and lustrous would be the two words to describe this song. It’s also a really nice departure from the usual hoarse ramblings of Black Francis to Kim Deal’s clean and accessible voice. Opening with a solid, stoic bass line from Ms. Deal, it then kicks into a quiet verse, and then explodes with untamed ferocity. Repetitive, but not annoying, it is so catchy and in such good humour. Probably the happiest Pixie’s song they have in their catalogue.

5. Monkey Gone To Heaven: Sliding guitars and crescendos are the main attributes of Monkey Gone To Heaven. Also, it’s general weirdness. It holds a lot of Black Francis’ fascination with sci-fi, and Kim Deal’s fascination with gentle, backing vocals….I guess? Either way, this song holds a soft spot in my Pixies favourites because of how childish and good-natured it is.

4. Is She Weird: If your ever in confusion about a relationship, just give this song a listen. It’s almost like as if the chorus is asking the listener if they can check off a bunch of personality traits for Black Francis’ perfect woman. Namely, is she weird? Is she white? Is she promised to the night? And her head has no room? It’s an absolutely furious song, but not in the way you’d think, in that it’s got a pounding bass, ghoulish vocals and a whispering riff.

3. Here Comes Your Man: One of those songs that everyone knows, but can’t name the artist. Well, now you know it’s by The Pixies. Very surf, probably one of the most original, yet cliched surf rock riffs in music history, and teenage to it’s core. This song is so fun and is all about chance encounters and love. It’s hard to keep a smile off your face when the snare rolls over into the chorus, which Kim Deal absolutely nails. Perfect for a car trip, or singing along with someone your really close with.

2. Where Is My Mind?: A classic Pixies’ song, that every single strung out junkie can tell you they’ve listened to while high. It’s about an acid trip gone wrong, dealing with the emotions and confusion of the drug. It also features one of the greatest introductions to a song of all time, with it’s crescendo drumming and to-and-fro riff. The ghostly backup vocals give the eeriest of effects, and an it’s-too-late feel to it. The song has been used quite a bit outside of  Pixies’ fan clubs, being the only non Dust Brothers song in the cult classic Fight Club, and it was covered by Placebo, back when they were popular, and they weren’t referred to as ‘those emo douche bags’.

1. Hey: The wailing in ‘Hey’ is nearly as famous as the song itself. A man’s lament of lost love, calling out to her, trying to break free of his struggles and establish himself and the one he loves. But he can’t. ‘Hey’ is so gut-wrenchingly sad, it brings a tear to my eye every time I listen to it, which by iTunes account is 232 times. It’s gritty, soulful and desperate. It’s cringe-worthy, hopeless and unashamed. It’s absolutely beautiful, and is the greatest song in The Pixies catalogue, a catalogue which is bursting with some of the greatest songs in rock history.

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