Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Here Comes Your Band; The Pixies' Top 20 Tracks

With Head Carrier set to drop this Friday, the group's return legacy still hanging in the balance, I figured it would be the proper time to look back on the Pixies' short but illustrious career. A five-year stretch that would rival any of the greatest artists of anyone's time, the Pixies' combustible style essentially gave way to Alternative Rock of the 90's, making them one of the most influential bands of all-time. Here are their greatest works, in short form, just how they'd like it. 

Something Against You
Surfer Rosa | 1988

It can't easily be stated how crucial every member of the Pixies is to the group's core output. Hell, just listen to the quality degradation that happened on their recent material when just Kim Deal was absent. While Black Francis gets all the attention, rightfully so as the outspoken singer, behind him you'll find one of the best guitarists, best drummers, and best all-around musicians of the Alternative Rock scene. On 'Something Against You,' it's Joey Santiago who shines. Black Francis is delegated to tertiary duties, hollering on about something in the distance, while Santiago and Lovering battle it out over some straight Noise Rock.

Perhaps the strangest emotional transition in their catalog, 'Something Against You' actually begins with Santiago flourishing as he soon will on Doolittle with a short Surf Rock riff. It's a small taste of what's to come in the following year, before quickly turning into one of Surfer Rosa's muckiest sets. Essentially incoherent nonsense, 'Something Against You' really confounds listeners despite its short duration. In one instance, the rhythms and chords feel deliberate. In another, it's an organic mess. A delusional blur that sets the tone for the future before wiping it with the garbled insanity of its present.

Trompe le Monde | 1991

There may be a bit of bias in my pick here, as the University Of Massachusetts, where Francis and Santiago met to form what would become the Pixies, sits just 15 minutes away from my house. Fun fact, Joey Santiago grew up in western Mass' suburbia and is good friends with my friends' mom. But I digress. 'U-Mass' rocks, for one because, I mean, just listen to it. And two, Francis' lingo is true and hits close to home. Living in the Pioneer Valley, of which he name drops here, the uncomfortable juxtaposition between rural redneck towns and the super liberal land of the five colleges (of which UMass is one) is all too real.

In that sense, 'U-Mass' is quite a hilarious diddy found on Trompe Le Monde. However, while one-half of the Pixies' formula is complete with Francis' on-the-nose lyrical insanity, the other half, the production, isn't slouching either. Possibly one of the hardest hitting Pixies tracks post-Surfer Rosa, 'U-Mass' shoots the group back to an adolescent age where they weren't yelping about aliens and trips across the country. It's rough, rugged, and an all-around blast that, for one of the only times ever, details a past event in Black Francis' mysterious life.

Bossanova | 1990

It's no surprise how influential the Pixies are in terms of sound distortion, essentially branding the entire Grunge movement with their soft/hard toss backs. While there were greater, more obvious examples of this (see: 'Tame'), 'Velouria' might've been the most unassuming, pushing the boundaries of each end as far as they could go. The shifts in tone weren't as drastic, more so entwined with each other so much that the final feeling wasn't conclusive. Santiago presented seething guitars the minute Francis swooned like he never has before, while the opposite was presented mere moments later.

And really, the constant quarrel's happening in the otherwise simple 'Velouria' match the message Francis presents. A tale of an impervious beauty seemingly sent by aliens, Velouria, as Francis deems her name to be, sends the singer into a frantic worship while also causing friction in his bouts of finding her. Therefore, the goddess' trail causes Francis to swoon as his anger grows in her absence. A well thought-out tale that's finale is ushered in by Kim Deal's soft cooing, as if the cries of Velouria herself are reaching Francis, making his fight to reach her even greater. 

Mr. Grieves
Doolittle | 1989

A personal favorite of mine. While there are better tracks in the Pixies catalog, none are as concise, to the point, and rounded than 'Mr. Grieves.' If only it could've been five seconds shorter, then it would hold the title as one of the best sub-two-minute songs of all-time. Tracking the entirety of the Pixies' ideology, 'Mr. Grieves' has everything you could ever want out of the band. Concise sonic fluctuations, a deliriously giddy hook and associating guitar riff, and a chilling message hidden underneath all the gooey Surf Rock gunk. The only thing that could've been improved falls on the tension between Francis and Deal, as the infamous "la la la's" should've been conceited to the bassist.

 Nonetheless, 'Mr. Grieves' is a masterstroke of what the Pixies accomplished with Doolittle. In fact, apart from name-dropping the album itself, it's likely the best representation of their 1989 opus. Catchy, senseless, and infinitely thought-provoking, 'Mr. Grieves' jauntily tackles the subject of death. Fearing it, embracing it, admiring it, who knows. More so than death, the short diddy seems to capture someone on the verge of suicide, either by first hand or third. There's a massive two-sided tug of war going on, as one character pesters: "you can cry you can mope, but can you swing from a good rope," while another pleads: "hope everything is alright." While the song implies Doolittle is the man in the middle, we all know it's actually Black Francis.

Motorway To Roswell
Trompe le Monde | 1991

Arguably the most anti-Pixies song ever made by the group. Why? Well, listen to it. 'Motorway To Roswell' is dripping with overly dramatic romanticism, ripe with formulaic signature shifts, and complete with an over-extended outro. For god's sake, the song is almost five minutes long. That's unheard of from a group who so effortlessly jampacked everything they needed to say in three or less. Not to mention Francis' story is so exorbitant, detailing every chance encounter this alien has, that other Pixies tracks would laugh at it for its sheer bloatedness. It's no wonder fans were, and in many ways still are, hesitant to accepting it.

So while many Pixies songs soar on their short-lived, improvisational charm, 'Motorway To Roswell' won thanks to its enduring magnetism. The tale told gushes with fleeting isolation, deserted exile, and the wantingness to return home. Francis' lyrics aren't as poignant or elusive here, but he more than makes up for it with a commitment to their forsaken wanderer. Considering it's longer than almost any other Pixies song (only 'All Over The World' bests it), 'Motorway To Roswell' fills its back half with a cinematic journey down said motorway, as if we're watching the lost traveler achieve his great escape via a film's grand climax.

Manta Ray
B-Sides | 1989

Typically regarded as the best Pixies b-side, 'Manta Ray' surely holds up to that title. The group knew of its value early on, releasing it alongside 'Monkey Gone To Heaven,' one of their most critically-acclaimed singles, despite having never been formally introduced on an official album. It's not as if 'Manta Ray' does anything especially different than the Pixies' trademarked work, it's more so that it encapsulates that sound really well. From Francis' unusual falsetto to Santiago's chorus-startling riff, 'Manta Ray' glides across the sky it describes with buttery smoothness.

An unknown fact about 'Manta Ray,' it's likely the first time, unless a cryptic message from Francis has evaded my ears, that the lead has formally announced his admiration of UFO's, aliens, and space. Three talking points that would dominate Bossanova and Trompe Le Monde, 'Manta Ray's' exclusion from Doolittle may have been because of its strange origins, surely a contest against their 1989 album's grim reality. In that sense, 'Manta Ray' works as a swell connector to the Pixies circa 1989 and 1990, using the abrasive two-tone insanity of the former with the astral subject matter of the latter.

River Euphrates
Surfer Rosa | 1988

You may not know it, but 'River Euphrates' is a filthy song. Surprising when listening to it, but understandable given the Pixies' always cryptic lyrics that don't match with the tunes they're on. Some may even deem 'River Euphrates' offensive, as Black Francis uses the phrase "ride the tiger" as slang for having sex with someone of Asian descent. From there on, there's talk of pre-ejaculation and semen. Lots of semen. Don't believe me? Look into it for yourself. Really deceiving given the innocent coos by Deal that ushers us into the song.

From a sonic standpoint, that's my favorite part of 'River Euphrates,' when everything strips itself back to allow for her presence to shine through. On the otherwise grim, dirty, and gnarly Surfer Rosa, 'River Euphrates' stands as quite the pristine opposition. Not lyrically, of course, but within the production. With how progressive, direct, and pictorial the group works here, 'River Euphrates' may have well been a better fit on Trompe Le Monde, coming a few albums before its time. The only thing present from the Surfer Rosa era, apart from the suggestive lyrics, is the group's youthful ambition, as the song still remains forever playful and naive.

Dig For Fire
Bossanova | 1990

'Dig For Fire' starts unlike any other Pixies song, from a place of comeliness and pleasantry. Every member enters the Bossanova track in the same headspace, a rarity in the group's dysfunctional discography. Santiago presents a small Surf Rock melody, starkly different than his usual harsher tones, forcing everyone, from Deal's bass to Lovering's drums to Francis' vocals, to conform and act accordingly. As a Pixies track, it's quite contemporary and submissive. Especially Francis, who finds himself speaking in his verses rather than hollering his lungs out. The divergence makes 'Dig For Fire' a late Pixies bloomer.

Lyrically, Francis finds himself contemplating life's grander ideas. Captured in the moment, an old man and woman search for their identity, their being, their purpose in life. 'Dig For Fire' presents a riveting complex, despite how simple Francis tells it. To him, a young, rebellious kid with a lifetime ahead of him, he assumes they're searching "for the mother lode," or, in his mind, material things. They're past that, looking instead at life's long mysterious, trying to gauge their value before they disappear forever. Powerful imagery that works really well with the smooth production easing in and out of the song.

Head On
Trompe le Monde | 1991

A shocking discovery occurred to me whilst making this list. 'Head On' is not an original. Not in the slightest. The track was actually curated by The Jesus And Mary Chain, a certain influencer to the Pixies' work, on their 1989 album Automatic. Surprisingly, 'Head On' was actually my first encounter with the Pixies, so this revelation catches me on uneasy footing. Shall I tell the story of where I heard it? Sure, why not. During the mid-2000's, when I was in middle school, I discovered a show on ABC Family called the Brendan Leonard show. If anyone has heard of it, I love you. Nostalgia runs rampant when thinking about it, and the show's theme song, which, if you're following along, was indeed the Pixies' version of 'Head On.' Fun stuff.

While I prefer the Pixies' 'Head On,' based on familiarity more than anything else, I respect and enjoy TJ&MC version as well. Something that allows many Pixies songs to soar is what put their version over the top for me; Francis' searing vocals. In connection with Santiago's one-note riffs and constant tone shifts (seriously, every 15 seconds it's a different song), 'Head On' thumps like no other. Lyrically, you can actually see that this wasn't created by Francis in retrospect. It's a bit too self-seeking, referring to the 'I' often, something Francis doesn't usually do. But really, the convivial of 'Head On' comes more from its overall lunacy than lyrical mystery.

Monkey Gone To Heaven
Doolittle | 1989

One of the Pixies' most infamous songs, and with good reason. The controversy here is almost entirely on the lyrics, thus why it's not higher on the list, since I'm more a production guy. Regardless, oh boy does Francis present many interesting conundrums on almost every line here. In contention with 'Where Is My Mind,' 'Monkey Gone To Heaven' initially seems like a hodgepodge of sporadic ideas that acts like meaningless mumbo jumbo. Then the chorus hits, and the notorious final prose ("if man is five, the devil is six, then god is seven"), and bam, the wacky album cover of Doolittle suddenly snaps into focus.

That prose has stirred as much discussion as the entire song combined. Partly because it's a lyrical anomaly, partly because it's on the cover, and partly because Francis goes all schizophrenic over it. There are a lot of theories as to its meaning, and that's putting it lightly. While those lines continue to confound listeners, many assigning meaning to the numbers and how they relate to their designation, the rest of 'Monkey Gone To Heaven' seems intent on dissecting global pollution caused by man. Some lines are topical to 1989, others representative of what our actions can cause, including the hook, which implies that an exotic animal we all adore could be brought to extinction over our actions. The Pixies have never been so direct about their beliefs.

Letter To Memphis
Trompe le Monde | 1991

Black Francis makes a straight-forward, not tongue-in-cheek, nor slathered in innuendo love song? Yuck! Where are our sliced eyeballs, our erect penises, our aliens? Well, believe it or not, Francis has range, and a heart apparently, because on 'Letter To Memphis' he exposes it ever so affectionately. The guitars, bass, and drums may be trying to fill a stadium, a transitional piece if the Pixies had continued to make music, but underneath all that noise is a man just trying to reach his love. 'Letter To Memphis' was essentially Lost In Translation a decade before the movie was filmed. A tragic tale of heartthrobs doing their best while living worlds apart.

Distinct in its delivery, 'Letter To Memphis' finds Francis at his most blunt, telling a story with virtually no redirects. You can follow the script and understand the events unfolding, a rarity for the Pixies. But in that same light, the heart is reassuring. When true love is felt there's no hidden barriers, complex imagery, or foggy misinterpretations abound. It's just love. 'Letter To Memphis' also finds Francis at his most mature, even the production tries to overpower him and force him back to adolescence. The way his voice changes in the short hook, quietly fawning over his lover, you can sense the tense restraint leave his body with only love as the final sentiment.

The Happening
Bossanova | 1991

Yet another one of Francis' alien-riddled tracks, this time detailing the exact moment our interstellar brethren land on earth. 'The Happening' actually starts out, in my opinion, as one of the Pixies' least impressive tracks. This feeling describes both verses, which I see as stale and sung uncomfortably. Plus the production seems to just collide in a muddled mess. Maybe that was on purpose though, because damn that transition to the hook is one of the group's best ever. Lovering's reckoning drums signal the shift, diving headfirst into Santiago, Deal, and, most of all, Francis' ear candy. Lovely juxtaposition, even for a group known best for doing just that.

Despite all this, the song's barely begun. While Francis' first verse deals with Area 51 alerting us to their incoming presence, and verse two tells us where to find them, the third verse, a non-descript joy-filled unraveling masked under soaring production, puts the listener inside Francis' car as he darts along the freeway to witness the event transpire. It's tough to make out his statements, as is prone to happen when excitement and confusion take over, but one line sticks out: "my head was feeling scared, but my heart was feeling free." A wonderful description of what UFO-believers, such as Francis, would likely be sensing if, or when, that moment ever arrives.

Levitate Me
Come On Pilgrim | 1987

'Levitate Me' is, in my opinion, one of the Pixies' finest works. It's not typical as per my interests, but the reason I adore 'Levitate Me' is almost entirely placed on Francis' vocals. It's arguably his best performance ever. If you've failed to hear this song because it's on their original EP, go do yourself a favor and listen to it. Francis shows off every single facet of his enigma here, from the whimsy falsettos, to the sneering snarkiness, to the extreme transgressions. Plus, once again, the content is an anomaly. From religion to sex to Eraserhead, no one's quite sure what 'Levitate Me' is about, which makes the incredibly powerful lyrics even more engrossing. Better yet, hearing Francis at his most adolescent causes the riveting words to gain traction purely based off of the mature/childish discrepancy.

We're not done yet though. Behind the scenes, while Francis is out in front doing his thing, each musician flails in unison with each other to endure some truly momentous occasions. Deal's bass fills the walls during the bridge, like some early Grunge, while Lovering's extended build-up going into the chorus on percussion is just lovely. The whole track, in fact, is just pulsing with detailed measures. See the second verse that's almost entirely dominated by Santiago's accelerated finger-flipping, something that evolves into a beautiful little medley that closes out the track. If we progress two years, those final few seconds mark the primary appeal of Doolittle.

Here Comes Your Man
Doolittle | 1989

This is where it starts getting tough. While the previous 13 songs have been no slouch, the top tier Pixies tracks are something else. What better way to introduce these mammoths than with the quaint, chipper, and utterly euphoric duet riff by Santiago and Deal. It is likely their best work as guitarists, regardless of how simple the punch is. From the moment 'Here Comes Your Man' begins, the blissful high of their work feels immediate. You just know it's going to be one of the catchiest songs you've ever heard, and that's before Francis and the melodic hook comes into play. While they played fiddle with Surf Rock and their Beach Boys influence on Doolittle, 'Here Comes Your Man' is easily the closest the Pixies ever got to dancing with their idols on fantasy island.

Even though 'Here Comes Your Man' is a classic case of "let's get back to the hook already," the verses interspersed certainly help add some much-needed density to the track. Another mystic tale from Francis, the protagonist of 'Here Comes Your Man' is a hobo, traveling across the land, before succumbing to a Californian earthquake. How Francis-like. Even though the Doolittle highlight doesn't necessarily represent the entirety of their discography, all the band members are used to their full effect, with Deal handing off some of her most memorable backing vocals ("so long, so long"), while Lovering's drums fill the potential airspace like never before. Oh, and the cheery, nonchalant solo by Santiago just gets a grin going from ear to ear, regardless of who's listening. Seriously, go check out the wacky music video and look at Santiago staring at you with the look of "I know this is greatness" on his face.

Surfer Rosa | 1988

Ah yes, the infamous 'Gigantic.' Let's pretend you don't know exactly what this song is about. Well, weary-wanderer, to put it bluntly, Kim Deal, in her most declarative Pixies performance ever, screams, hollers, and hoots at the sight of a gigantic black penis. That's right, the song you heard on an iPhone 5 commercial was about interracial, intermarital love. Few other songs in the lore of music history have been as rebellious, as subversive, and as disobedient in the moment as 'Gigantic.' Remember folks, this was before the internet, so you best believe the only way Deal's seen a BBC was either from real life or a risque movie bought physically. In reality, it's about the 1986 film Crimes Of The Heart and its similar plotline, but hearing such candid lyricism from an almost 30-year-old woman hanging out with recent college dropouts is glorious.

The famous hook was actually derived, like many Pixies songs, through a singular vision seen by Francis as the piece was coming to an end. He saw the massive scope of the production, and figured matching phrase with tone would result in the best of both worlds. While 'Tame,' and other Doolittle tracks, have gained most of the recognition for their imbalanced sonic dynamics, it was actually 'Gigantic' which figured it out first. Leave it to the girl in the group, with her passionate whispering, to kickstart a proto-Punk scene called Grunge. Many, by association, will call 'Gigantic' Alternative Rock, and while they may be right, make no mistake, this is about as Punk as it gets. A garage band praising infidelity over deformed distortions, 'Gigantic' is bloody brilliant on many, many levels. 

Alec Eiffel
Trompe le Monde | 1991

Generally regarded as the best post-Doolittle track, 'Alec Eiffel' stands tall as a glorious statement of where the Pixies could've gone. While I adore Trompe Le Monde, more so than most, the legacy its 15 tracks could've had had they followed the script of 'Alec Eiffel' is paramount. Pairing the modular layering of Trompe Le Monde's stadium-filling sounds with the infectious rapture of Doolittle's Pop Rock sensibilities, it's the one song teetering on the edge of the breakup that fans all worship. Ironic considering the track itself uses the original disdain towards the Eiffel Tower's construction, many calling it unnecessary and ugly, as a metaphor for the group themselves. The efficiency of the tower, used as a radio mast, and the fact it was far ahead of its time, makes comparisons to the Pixies easy. Francis was really a genius for knowing the worth of the group before they tore it down.

But why exactly do people adore this song? It's not the singing, nor the lyrics, nor the original instrumentation. Those are all well and good, with momentary transitions to different soundscapes, all colliding into a beautiful collage of reckless abandon, but what really sells 'Alec Eiffel' is its final spectacle. A synth, yes, a synth, kicks in and everything Trompe Le Monde worked for comes into clear view. With everyone contributing vocals, which are essentially incoherent filler to the marvel found in the instruments, 'Alec Eiffel' may be one of the Pixies' best-produced tracks ever. It's a behemoth, yet somehow manages to showcase each layer despite the entire product padding and pushing the walls as far as they can go.

Doolittle | 1989

Who controls 'Hey'? One would assume it's Francis' personal yelps, including the prominent opening introduction ("Hey!"). But alas, you'd be ignoring Deal's revolutionary bass line, which even gets a solo bridge post-chorus. Or what about Santiago's genial riff that, despite the darkened flavor of the track, still fits snugly. You can't forget Lovering's hollow hi-hats that mesh flawlessly with his own pummeling kick drums either. Really, 'Hey,' the internal dynamics of loud/quiet and all, masterfully unites all of the Pixies' best perks. In their world, a world where many enjoy the Pixies for the infinite foot-tapping, the pristine oscillations are often overlooked. Look critically at how 'Hey' works and the simple title will turn into a red herring for how utterly smooth all the complexities work together.

Lauded as one of the group's best non-single songs, or best in general, it's surprising that the topical content isn't much to ride home about. Relationships centered around sex and the complications that arise, certainly not something we haven't heard of before. But the brilliance of 'Hey' arises in the fact that Francis, clearly divulging some of his own experiences here, tears away the mask to reveal a two-sided one, complete with angry on one side, sadness on the other. Like the Greek comedy/tragedy masks, 'Hey' works on multiple emotional layers, witnessing Francis blast about the sound a "mother makes when the baby breaks" moments before his piercing falsetto breathlessly moves in, as Deal joins him, to somberly choke about the fact they're "chained."

Come On Pilgrim | 1987

The first Pixies song in their official discography, 'Caribou' captures the band with their careers ahead of them. There's no fans, no genre-shifting expectations, no critical darlings to live up to. At this point in time, the group were no-name's, making their own brand of Rock N' Roll that admired the classics before diving headfirst into untested waters. From Santiago's first riveting riff, dragging notes beyond means of comprehension, the Pixies officially began. For a few honest seconds, we knew what the Pixies were like without Black Francis. And then the drifting twenty-something dawns his personality, complete with shuffling inflections, and the rest was history. The hook foreshadowed it all, because, while the production wasn't all extremes yet, Francis was, softly humming the title before delving into pre-Grunge satanic dispelling's of repent.

On 'Caribou,' it's Francis who steals the show, despite the help of his bandmates. Lovering chugs along at a meandering pace, using his drumsticks to signal the chorus, while Deal drifts in and out of the background, prophesying her definite role in the future, while Santiago drills listeners with something not unlike your ruff and rugged Punk scene. But it's Francis' vocals that steal the show, that set the tone for the next five years of anarchy. Well before all the UFO talk, 'Caribou' ousted Francis as the outcast, traveling societies urban sprawl looking for a home, eventually coming to worship nature's virgin land under his feet. It's either about escapism or reincarnation, but both apply to the same ideology that was Francis' demented, yet highly enthralling, mindstate.

Where Is My Mind?
Surfer Rosa | 1988

Sometimes a band's most acclaimed song turns into their most irritating, trivial, and superficial. I'm looking at you Nirvana, or you Radiohead, even though 'Smells Like Teen Spirit' and 'Creep's' notoriety aren't necessarily your own doing. With the Pixies, their most famous work, 'Where Is My Mind,' is also one of their best. Broadcasted to the world at the climatically beautiful ending of every teenager's "fuck society" movie Fight Club, 'Where Is My Mind' gained exposure for the Pixies, an almost cult-like group at the time. Now, their influence is finally beginning to take shape, and, ironically, not in the least bit due to 'Where Is My Mind,' as the track is quite the outlier to the rest of their discography. 

Why? Well, it's certainly not due to Francis' idiosyncratic lyrics, which are entirely representative of his masterwork on paper. Rather, 'Where Is My Mind' finds a curious place in the Pixies lore because it features copious amounts of doomsday atmosphere. Led by Francis' simple acoustics, joined later by Santiago's spellbinding riff and Deal's disgustingly captivating bass, 'Where Is My Mind,' with harsh sonic dynamics in tow, makes a strong case as the Pixies' climatic work. The soft crescendos falling over Francis' delusional soul-searching lines, leading straight onwards to his enigmatic retelling of the title, are any music lovers dream. It was the late 80's, and yet the case could be made that 'Where Is My Mind' can stand to commandeer both Grunge and Alternative Rock as their definitive mission statements. Praise can't get much higher. 

Doolittle | 1989

Upon starting this list there was no question 'Debaser' would be my number one. There is no other song in the Pixies' catalog, hell, no other song in almost any artist's catalog, that perfectly surmises what exactly the group is about than Doolittle's thunderous opening. In just under three minutes, the Pixies way, every aspect of their being finds itself launched into the foreground. There's the lyrical ambiguity of Come On Pilgrim, the relentless aggression of Surfer Rosa, the unbridled catchiness of its own album Doolittle, the delirious hoots and hollers of Black Francis on Bossanova, and the progressive sound stage of Trompe Le Monde.

Looking past the all-engrossing importance of 'Debaser' and focusing on the intangibles, the track stands tall as one of Doolittle's most divine projects, a template if you will for the entire 90's Alt Rock scene. What set them apart, as they still are to this day despite influencing hundreds of groups, is the complete lack of over-indulgence. At its heart, 'Debaser' is a perfect Pop song. From the get-go, the phenomenal drumming of David Lovering takes shape, setting the tone with a thumping vitality that Francis matches. Kim Deal's backing vocals, her bread and butter, shine through the chaos of Joey Santiago's constant riffing like a sheet of silk. And then, as any remarkable Pop song should aspire to achieve, every line pushed by Francis sounds worthy of the hook, making the entirety of 'Debaser' an ever-evolving chorus with absolutely no downtime.

But really, what is a debaser? It's a question that many have pondered, a catalyst for the utterly bizarre, surreal, and incoherent lyrics that've spewed from Francis' mouth from time to time. He made it cool to sing about whatever. Things didn't need to have an emotional tug or a poignant message. If it sounded good, and was elusive enough, listeners would attach meaning however they see fit. In reality, when the lyrics of 'Debaser' are understood, the Pixies' prototypical opus becomes even more nestled in its role. Based on the surrealist film Un Chien Andalou, Francis' hysterical lines find refuge in the unclear. The film by Luis Buñuel and Salvador Dalí, as Francis noticed, debased the standards of arts. Nothing needed to make sense, and yet, to some open enough, you were able to find all the answers. Therefore, Francis' aspirations to "grow up to be a debaser" become clear, his successes absolutely unparalleled. The Pixies embodied this ideology throughout their tenure, and it's one that has altered the landscape of Alternative Rock forever.

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