The 10 Best Pixies Songs

The Pixies formed in 1986 in Boston, and as the 80s came to a close they looked set as the band that would break the underground music scene into the mainstream. They were established as one of the best new bands on the independent scene after the 1988 release of their now legendary first album Surfer Rosa. Surfer Rosa was produced by the legend Steve Albini. He is widely credited for hardening up the guitar on the album. The noisy guitar solos and the bands unconventional stop-start dynamics would later serve as a blueprint for the grunge movement. Add the Pixies pioneering of mixing male and female vocals and it is easy to see that their influence is still widespread in music today.

Their follow up album Doolittle release the year after lifted them into the mainstream. Doolittle would prove to be the hight of the bands accomplishments and regularity feature on various best albums lists. Clearly one of the most influential albums of the 80s it provided the stepping stone for the alternative music revolution of the following decade.

In 1992 Nirvana famously screamed independent music into the mass market. The Pixies who had seemed like they would be the most likely band to spearhead this movement was practically defunct at this point. Slowly unraveling over internal tension between lead vocalist Black Francis and bassist Kim Deal.

The Pixies followed their momentous Doolittle album with Bossanaova in 1990. Kim Deal had long wanted to have more of her songs featured on the albums. Bossanova had no tracks written by the bassist. The album turned out to be a great disappointment and received what can only be called ‘mixed reviews’. The next year saw the release of ‘Trompe De Monde’, and attempt to return to the success formula of Surfer Rosa and Doolittle. Deal was still minimally featured on the album, and while being received better than Bossanova the momentum of the underground movement had by now shifted firmly to Seattle and the emerging grunge wave.

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Finally in 1992 the band split up. Black famously announced the split before informing his band mates and the members would move on to solo projects and other bands. Kim Deal returned to her side project the Breeders and released a hit album and the hit single Cannonball. Black Francis renamed himself Frank Black and quickly faded into obscurity. In 2004 the Pixies reunited and played a series of festivals in the US and Europe without managing to regain the following or attention from their heyday.

The following is a list of the 10 best songs released by the Pixies. This will read almost like a track listing from Doolittle which is undoubtedly their finest moment. The album is an absolute must have.

10. Dead

Doolittle was a definite step forward for the Pixies and this song illustrates the difference from Surfer Rosa very well. The song still regains the trademark scattered melodies from the first full length album, but the song and the recording still seems more well rounded than their previous songs. With typically nonsensical lyrics and unconventional rhythms the song forms a bridge from Surfer Rosa to Doolittle

9. Bone Machine

This song further emphasizes the development of the Pixies from a raw underground band to the well polished champions of alternative music. Again the song has a very quirky flow that was typical for the band. It also shows the stop-go dynamics the band invented that would become one of the most distinct marks of the grunge movement.

8. There Goes my Gun

The harder guitars and drums are on display in this song. It also shows of the melody writing skills of the band. The song rolls and gallops away in what would turn into another signature sound for the Pixies.

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7. Gigantic

The first hit single from the Pixies and the best known of their songs from Surfer Rosa. The massive noise guitar is a key ingredient in this song. The changing between softer periods and a ‘wall of sound’ with noise guitar combined with intense vocals sound points directly to the most well known songs by Nirvana.

6. Hey

This track is largely driven by vocals and the dynamics between Black and Deal alternating lines in the chorus. This use of female and male lyrics mixed or alternating was another effect used extensively by the Pixies later to be be adopted by many bands.

5. Monkey Gone to Heaven

The Pixies lyrics cover everything from obscure pop culture to sex. In monkey goes to heaven Black Francis sings about religion. The lyrics still don’t make much sense however. The song relies heavily on the new stop and go dynamics which they pull of brilliantly in this song. As a result the chorus is one of their most memorable.

4. Gouge Away

Arguable one of the Pixies strongest melodies. This song again has confusing and meaningless lyrics, but the melody is beautiful. Blacks hoarse and creeping vocal style is a perfect fit for the simple and moody song. It is also one of their most successful uses of the shouted lyrics style. Every time I hear this song I want to move it up to the first spot on this list.

3. Where is My Mind

The absolute high point on Surfer Rosa, Where is My Mind is not typical for the album. It is mellower than most of the guitar driven songs on the album. As is so often the case with the Pixies, this song shines in it’s brilliant melody and their masterful song dynamics. The guitar is as swirling and cutting as anything on the album, but still takes second stage to the vocals.

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2. Wave of Mutilation

Some of the best rolling yet pounding guitar solos on any Pixies song. Which is saying quite a lot. For the most part the guitars lays down a massive blanket of noise while still providing amazing hooks. The most aggressive parts of the song almost feel like an actual wave of mutilation.

1. Debaser

Everything Pixies comes together in a perfect blend in this song. Deals simple yet effective bass lines, the obscure lyrics. The mix of Blacks screaming manic voice and a subtle female voice in support. Searing guitar solos. It is all here. Chaotic but still with a weird catching melody it is the perfect Pixies song.