Surfer Rosa


Elektra/4AD, 1988

REVIEW BY: Sean McCarthy


Come On Pilgrim landed the Pixies on the map of the college rock world, but Surfer Rosa proclaimed that a new sheriff was in town and was going to take rock in a whole different direction.my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250

Rarely has a band been able to juggle so many big ideas into one cohesive unit: lyrics about sci-fi, sadism, spaghetti-western tales of vengeance over a backdrop of punk, pop and rockabilly surf rock. But the Pixies were able to weave this mess into pop gold. Praised as a landmark album, Surfer Rosa logs in at barely over 30 minutes.

The duo guitar assault of Black Francis and Joey Santiago combined punk, straightforward rock and even elements of rockabilly and Tex-mex. Kim Deal's bass provided the sturdy backbone and David Lovering's pristine drumming turned tunes like "Broken Face" and "Something Against You" into three-minute blitzes. The more mellow tunes were no less powerful, and are the most recognized tracks on the album: "Gigantic" and "Where Is My Mind?"

Surfer Rosa is given a splatterhouse production sheen by Steve Albini. Albini, known for his stripped, lacerating production, can't mask Thompson's obvious love of a great Beach Boys-like guitar hook. Still, there's plenty of anarchism going on in Surfer Rosa, most notably Deal's scattered, spoken-word story about field hockey player lust.

If anything divides Pixies fans, it's the Doolittle vs. Surfer Rosa debate. Much like how fans debate early Beatles vs. late-era Beatles, some fans categorize themselves as Surfer Rosa fans and some categorize themselves as Doolittle fans. Doolittle represents a warmer, hook-friendly Pixies (courtesy of Gil Norton's production) and Surfer Rosa's anarchic fun. Do yourself a favor and pick up both.

Rating: A-

User Rating: Not Yet Rated


© 2004 Sean McCarthy and The Daily Vault. All rights reserved. Review or any portion may not be reproduced without written permission. Cover art is the intellectual property of Elektra/4AD, and is used for informational purposes only.