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Harry Harland (The Pixies – Death To The Pixies)


The Pixies are a strange band. They are held in supremely high regard by many, internationally renowned, and yet can you name three of their songs? Indeed, for the casual music listener, the Fight Club-endorsed anthem Where Is My Mind? is probably the sole representative of their back catalogue on your iPod.

I must confess that it has taken me a fair old while to get into them, and even now I need to be in the right frame of mind. As often as I wanted to wax lyrical about my love of them, I found myself wondering quite how or why they seemed to be held in such high regard. At their best though, they are unstoppably brilliant.

True Pixies fans (and there appear to be plenty of them) will doubtless be disappointed that I have chosen ‘best of’ compilation Death To The Pixies as my advised starting point, but with a band this ‘marmitey’, you would be foolish not to dip into their more accessible material at first port of call.

Cecilia Ann, a short instrumental, kicks proceedings off before the business of their ‘real’ songs begins. Tubby and decidedly un-rock-n-roll-looking frontman Francis Black’s vocals are one of the most unique things about the band. Black swings wildly between gentle and bezerk at the flick of a switch. One minute he will be crooning sweetly, only to shift into tortured screams seconds later. Songs such as Tame and personal favourite Caribou bear testament to this metamorphosis.

Musically, the songs are relatively heavy, without being offensively so. Mainly led by bass and drum, with simple guitar riffs layered on top, they were in many ways the predecessors to a large number of modern alternative bands. Fan favourite Debaser is a classic example of this.

I can guarantee that you won’t love everything that the Pixies do, but given the variation on show there’s a good chance that you will find there’s more to like about them than you originally thought.