The Pixies - Surfer Rosa

PIXIES QUOTE The Fall (a mangled snatch of 'Stephen Song' in 'I'mAmazed') so we can: "They pass my home at night/oh they are NOTALRIGHT/they are ten times may age/and one-tenth my height" (CityHobgoblins'). Pixies aren't benign. They are NOT ALRIGHT. They sport nofriendly 'The' (like Swans, or more pertinently, 'Elves', anotherterror-struck-little Fall-song), and they make sounding like someoneelse into an ugly dream that, come morning, you aren't sure you want toremember.

Who do they sound like? 'Gigantic' sounds like Rickie LeeJones guesting with Pere Ubu to me. They writhe through The Band andCrazy Horse and (Especially) The Fall as if they can hear some kind ofhistory which links them all. They do more than sound like people whowent before them - they force the past to sound like them. 'Surfer Rosa' doesn't have the brazenLatin-metal invention of their 'Come On Pilgrim' mini-LP from last year- but I can't really remember when I last heard a music with this degreeof lazy evil injected into it. Or a music that seemed to pin down thingswe wouldn't have heard ourselves, to map out ideas in the air and singthem into solid form. With studio backchat and chopped up fragments ofsongs, they build the same kind of politico-critical semi-consciousassault on their surroundings as more overtly nasty Stateside bandsPussy Galore and the Butthole Surfers.

7That's what the new Latinkick's all about, the nueva onda, as reinvented byPixie-songwriters Black Francis and Mrs John Murphy. The Wonderful &Frightening World of Pixies ends up forcing Anglos to put their ownworld-view through agonizing reappraisal.

So is it ever going to becool to put (half) naked women on the cover of an LP, however untamelyHispanic they look? It's a matter of the twist inside. Of who's the realvictim.

Pixies have put a viciously eccentric but very subtle curveinto the rock they play and replay - if they're enticing a few folks inwith a promise of cheap old-style rockist titillation, it's because theywant to cheat and humiliate them publicly - to smack them in the facefor their submission to sleaze.

Rock America has given up onLike-Me-Like-Me populism, and some of us are beginning to love it as aresult. As they say themselves: Oh my golly! Oh my golly! Ros, oh oh ohhRosa! Huh! Huh! Rosa, oh oh ohh Rosa! Huh! Huh!

9.5/10

Mark Sinker