The Pixies is one of those bands rock & roll seems incapable of replicating. Formed in the post-punk, post-new wave, pre-grunge '80s, the group sounded as out of place then as it does now. The Pixies didn't have a political stance, or a fashion stance, or a series of cleverly animated videos. They didn't even have the big synth sound necessary to make it on the college underground, just the guitars, bass and drums of the '70s. The Pixies were like the Talking Heads with more Lou Reed, or the Modern Lovers with less Lou Reed, or Lou Reed with more Redd Kross -- or something like that. They were good. On this B-side compilation of tiny treasures, they still sound out of place. Where are the big, fat bass samples? Where are the downtuned guitars? Where are the anguish and anger and guilt? You can't just listen to well-written songs and catchy melodies and bright shining guitars, can you?
Well, you oughtta. In another 10 years, the Pixies will be as revered as the Velvet Underground, and you'll need to know this stuff to retain your cachet once facial piercings are finally, mercifully played out. You'll need to know that "Wave of Mutilation (UK Surf)" and its ascending bubble-chain of silvery guitar notes from the ocean's floor preceded Radiohead's austere Kid A by 11 years, and not the other way around. You will need to be capable of casually mentioning that the steady, burning drums and incandescent guitar shrieks of "Into the White" predated the Foo Fighters' "Everlong." You'll need to know that the Pixies covered Neil Young ("I've Been Waiting for You" and "Winterlong") years before Pearl Jam made it fashionable to do so. You'll need to know that before grunge came along and depressed everyone, there was guitar rock that was loud and fast and fun. Come back, Pixies -- we miss you.