Pixies are an American alternative rock band that formed out of Boston in the late 80’s. Fronted by Charles Thompson, aka Frank Black, on lead vocals and electric and acoustic guitar, and supported by bassist Kim Deal on lead and backing vocals, Joey Santiago on electric guitar and David Lovering on drums. Whilst generally considered an alternative rock band, they encapsulate several different styles including punk, pseudo metal and indie rock. Black’s erratic, sometimes harsh screams sit well alongside the sweet influences of Deals vocals, mixing and matching the two to create a great diversity of sounds across their albums. Their music bounces between fast and slow tempos, featuring prominent electric guitars and triumphant riffs, with Black and Deal often writing about figures from the Old Testament, physical injury, violent metaphors and later, sci-fi themes.
With the release of their first full length in 1988 in the form of Surfer Rosa, Pixies established themselves a substantial level of artistic respect amongst colleagues and particularly UK audiences, with the album reaching number 3 there. Songs such as Gigantic and Where is my Mind were a commercial success with the latter featured in the closing minutes of the movie Fight Club some 15 years later. After the success of Surfer Rosa the band signed a major record deal and started on work on their next LP, Doolittle. They wanted to move away from the raw, harsher sound of Surfer Rosa and were looking for something a bit smoother and cleaner on Doolittle. The band signed a major record deal, enlisted producer Gil Norton, and armed with a production budget four times that of Surfer Rosa, they facilitated their wishes above and beyond. Doolittle was massive success for the band, propelling them into the spotlight and establishing them as one of the premier bands of the time. However things between principal songwriter Black had started to deteriorate just prior to the Doolittle’s release, and Deal left the band realizing that it was in fact, Black’s band.
Nevertheless Pixies carried on and released two more LPs which were also well received, however the band had officially gone their separate ways by 1993. Fortunately, in 2004 Black announced that there was to be a reunion tour amidst increasing rumours and anticipation around the world. Their 4 days at Brixton academy in London were the fastest to sell out in 20 years at the venue, and ticket sales from 2005 were reported to be in excess of $14 million US. Pixies have earnt their place in music history, and a host of prominent bands, most notably Nirvana, play tribute to the influence they had upon them. They have a place in any reputable music critique of their period, further evidenced by Doolittleand Surfer Rosa featuring as number four and seven respectively in Pitchfork Musics “Best 100 albums of the 80s.