Happy birthday props and luv to my pal Mark Sinker, who deserves all the props in the world. In his honor (and probably much to his chagrin) here's one of my favorite reviews by him, from NME, March 1988:
PIXIES QUOTE The Fall (a mangled snatch of 'Stephen Song' in 'I'm Amazed'), so we can: "They pass my home at night/oh they are NOT ALRIGHT/they are ten times my age/and one-tenth my height" ('City Hobgoblins').
Pixies aren't benign. They are NOT ALRIGHT. They sport no friendly 'The' (like Swans, or more pertinently, 'Elves', another terror-struck-little Fall-song), and they make sounding like someone else into an ugly dream that, come morning, you aren't sure you want to remember.
Who do they sound like? 'Gigantic' sounds like Rickie Lee Jones guesting with Pere Ubu to me. They writhe through The Band and Crazy Horse and (especially) The Fall as if they can hear some kind of history which links them all. They do more than sound like people who went before them - they force the past to sound like them. 'Surfer Rosa' doesn't have the brazen Latin-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 degree of lazy evil injected into it. Or a music that seemed to pin down things we wouldn't have heard ourselves, to map out ideas in the air and sing them into solid form. With studio backchat and chopped up fragments of songs, they build the same kind of politico-critical semi-conscious assault on their surroundings as more overtly nasty Stateside bands Pussy Galore and the Butthole Surfers.
That's what the new Latin kick's all about, the nueva onda, as reinvented by Pixie-songwriters Black Francis and Mrs John Murphy. The Wonderful & Frightening World of Pixies ends up forcing Anglos to put their own world-view through agonizing reappraisal.
So is it ever going to be cool to put (half) naked women on the cover of an LP, however untamely Hispanic they look? It's a matter of the twist inside of who's the real victim. Pixies have put a viciously eccentric but very subtle curve into the rock they play and replay - if they're enticing a few folks in with a promise of cheap old-style rockist titillation, it's because they want to cheat and humiliate them publicly - to smack them in the face for their submission to sleaze. Rock America has given up on Like-Me-Like-Me populism, and some of us are beginning to love it as a result. As they say themselves: Oh my golly! Oh my golly! Rosa, oh oh ohh Rosa! Huh! Huh! Rosa, oh oh ohh Rosa! Huh! Huh! 9.5/10 M.S.