Monday, February 16, 2004

#71) Pixies - Surfer Rosa (released in 1988, I bought it on used CD at Arboria during my junior or senior year of high school)

As implied by their proximity here, Surfer Rosa and Doolittle are almost equally impressive to me. Both weld slicing guitar hooks and a strong rhythm section (especially impressive for late ‘80s indie rock) with lyrics that make giddy pleasure out of abjection and gothic imagery - White Light/White Heat remixed by “Sugar Sugar” svengalis Kasenetz & Katz. One of the things that gives Surfer a slight nod is Steve Albini’s “production” (don’t call it that in front of him, though). He’s claimed the group was unusually willing to submit to his ideas, and it paid off in a searingly sweet sound that seems wholly unique despite the tireless efforts of numerous ‘90s artists to claim it for themselves (often by using – or better yet, submitting to – Albini’s merciless recording techniques). Black Francis’s most disturbing vocal performances are found here – his squeals and shrieks make him sound like the cutest piggy at the slaughterhouse. The song quality peters out near the end, but “Gigantic” is a much better Kim Deal showcase than Doolittle’s “Sliver” and I love the song about a superhero named Tony (and it’s called “Tony’s Theme”).

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