Perhaps known just as much for pioneering the “loud-quiet-loud” song structure as they are for being cool to Nirvana for jacking that exact style and becoming much more popular with it, the Pixies are legends through and through. Today, we’re ranking all of their studio LPs, which, much like the game show, can be divided into simply “Deal or No Deal?” I know I’m no Howie Mandel (everyone’s always telling me this, and it’s getting old), but allow me to be your host for this one.
8. Doggerel (2022)
Well, you see…It’s a Pixies album that was released in two thousand twenty-two. Though they put up a valiant effort, and it’s certainly nice to see that the ol’ gang is still able to crank out a serviceable song or two, it’s just not up to snuff. We’re a long way from “Doolittle,” folks, and “Doggerel” lets you know it. Capturing that original Pixies magic is kind of like catching that dang roadrunner, it’s never going to happen and that’s okay.
Play it again: “Nomatterday”
Skip it: ‘Sadducee”
7. Indie Cindy (2014)
Hmmm, think positives, think positives…Oh! One thing we like about this album is it’s one of the only record titles we can think of that could ALSO be the name of a new Garbage Pail Kid. Guitarist Joey Santiago shines with a great riff here and there, but this works best as background noise. Put it on while you refinish the bathroom, you won’t be missing anything.
Play it again: “Greens and Blues”
Skip it: “Bagboy”
6. Beneath the Eyrie (2019)
Look, the fact is: any albums the Pixies released post- Kim Deal are justifiably held to a different standard. So, that being said, “Beneath the Eyrie,” as a Deal-less effort, goes in a lot of fun, sonic directions and is overall enjoyable. I realize I’m doing the Liz Lemon thing where she compliments Jenna’s play’s program font, and I’m alright with that. Drummer David Lovering is a magician in his off-time, and I don’t want to cross anyone that could make me disappear at a moment’s notice.
Play it again: “Catfish Kate” (Hey, another potential Garbage Pail Kid!)
Skip it: “Ready For Love”
5. Head Carrier (2016)
We like “Head Carrier,” and even considered ranking it up in the midst of the golden-age releases just to ruffle some feathers in the comments. But, let’s face it, our fans don’t need any extra prodding to do that, so here it will stay. It’s a bit more heavy on the pretty melodies, and light on the ferocity we know Black Francis is capable of (he even penned a pseudo-apology song to Kim Deal with “All I Think About Is Now.” What a sweetie!) but we’ll allow it. We may be The Hard Times, but we can also be the soft hearts.
Play it again: “Um Chagga Lagga”
Skip it: “Baal’s Back”
4. Trompe Le Monde (1991)
The first appearance of Kim Deal in this ranking, yahoo! Well, hold on a second…She’s in here somewhere, but unfortunately you couldn’t tell from “Trompe Le Monde’s” mixing! Maybe play with one of The Breeders’ albums simultaneously to get the full, classic Pixies experience. Aside from that, you’ve got Pixies in the autumn of their glory days with this one. It’s a hell of an album, despite or perhaps DUE to the fact that it verges into “circus music” territory more than once.
Play it again: “Alec Eiffel” (also listen to The Get Up Kids cover)
Skip it: Though it describes a lot of us, gotta go “The Sad Punk”
Honorable Mention: Come On Pilgrim (1987)
Technically not an LP, but a “Mini-LP” so we are going to include this as a bonus for all you Pix-heads out there. The Pixies’ maiden voyage was culled down from a 17-song demo, separating the wheat from the chaff (although, this is early Pixies so you KNOW that chaff must have been pretty good too.) Everything’s in place right from the get-go: Santiago’s twang, Lovering’s cocksure time-keeping and Francis & Deal’s intertwining vocals which will never be taken away from us as far as we, in 1987, know!
Play it again: “The Holiday Song”
Skip it: “I’ve Been Tired”
3. Bossanova (1990)
Ooo, baby, we’re deeeeep into the good stuff now! “Bossanova” may not be everyone’s third choice, but we think it rips. Chock full of what music scholars will henceforth call “Kids In the Hall-Core” riffs that would have Man or Astroman? frantically calling mission control. In contrast to its title, “Bossanova” rocks the hardest of any Pixies offering, and if we were going on pure adrenaline and energy, it could easily take the number one spot. But alas, “Surfer Rosa” and “Doolittle” exist.
Play it again: “Allison” (Hey, to quote Jello Biafra: “I Like Short Songs”)
Skip it: “All Over the World”
2. Surfer Rosa (1988)
A slab of wall-to-wall bangers that could very well have been #1 if the coin flip landed differently (we take our rankings VERY seriously.) Featuring Steve Albini’s iconic production that launched a thousand alt-rock ships, this record’s the red carpet, and every song on it is a star walking it. “Bone Machine”, “Gigantic”, “Cactus”…the list goes on and on. You can even picture Kurt Cobain as Salieri, listening to this like a Mozart symphony, and weeping out of a combination of joy AND sadness. Don’t worry Kurt, you’ll get yours.
Play it again: “River Euphrates,” “Gigantic” (anyone ‘90s skateboarder that watched 411 knows this one by heart)
Skip it: “Where Is My Mind?” (If you want to hear this song, simply watch a movie, TV show, or commercial.)
1. Doolittle (1989)
Duh-little. This album has it all. Honestly, you could just listen to “Debaser” and call it a day and it would still be a masterpiece. This is the album that cool older siblings should have been required by law to pass down to their younger brothers or sisters in order to make sure they were put on a good music trajectory. There is still time to act Congress, get off your asses and pass some common-sense Pixies legislation.
Play it again: Gotta go “Wave of Mutilation” but you can pretty much insert your favorite one here.
Skip it: I guess “Silver” but just so you can get to “Gouge Away” quicker