The Pixies – Death to the Pixies – Review

The Pixies

Death to the Pixies (Elektra)
by Nik Rainey

Death to the Pixies probably doesn’t do adequate justice to the band that, in a mere four-year existence, lit the fuse which led to the alterna-explosion of the present decade and inspired dozens, nay hundreds, of like-minded bands (and those are just the ones the bass player formed). The first disc covers all the “hits,” including songs (like “Here Comes Your Man”) that really aren’t representative of the far-reaching mixture of mythopoesy, hi-fi-sci-fi, and screwball pop-punkisms that provided the template for the irony-enriched shambleaya that followed (mix “Gouge Away” with “Bone Machine,” add a pinch of “More Than a Feeling,” and you’ve got “Smells Like Teen Spirit”), and the second is a 1990 live recording from a band not known for its on-stage charisma and spontaneity (the one time I saw them, they played their set list in alphabetical order, which should tell you something).

It gives short shrift to their legendary first full-length, Surfer Rosa (the album that gave “recorder” Steve Albini a career between dissing former friends and taking forever to record his own damn records) and all but ignores their underappreciated kiss-off, Trompe Le Monde. There are no rarities or real surprises to speak of (though 4AD is said to be at work on an odds ‘n’ sods set – if they skip “Theme From the Nintendo Video Game ‘Narc’,” I’m suing Ivo) – the dedicated Black Francophile could probably cobble together a more penetrating collection by putting their five CDs in and hitting shuffle. This compilation’s saving grace: It’s the Pixies, dammit. Hearing their wall-eyed melangé of surf riffs, pop sniffles, end-of-the-world shrieks, and the cracked harmonies of Black Francis and Kim Deal (fave example: “Nimrod’s Son”) is always a treat no matter how unimaginatively arranged, every single song has at least one Bartlett’s-worthy sound byte (“You’re so pretty when you’re unfaithful to me!”), and if, for some idiotically occult reason, you’ve not supped at the Pixies’ slanted table, this is as good a place to tuck in as any.