The Pixies have received a creative renaissance of late, since their 2004 Wave Of Mutilation compilation. There is reason for this, as this collection of their debut album, Surfer Rosa and their early EP Come On Pilgrim shows.
Their influence can be heard in countless songs. 'Cactus' was later covered by David Bowie, 'Where Is My Mind?' by Placebo, and so on. Truth is, there is scarcely a duff track across this whole CD, which burns through 21 tracks in about 50 minutes.
As good as the aforementioned are, I feel the opening salvo of 'Bone Machine' and 'Break My Body' is the definitive Pixies statement. Between them, they form a whirlwind of off-kilter harmonies, tempo changes, Frank Black's unholy screech and Joey Santiago's chiming guitar work. Then, there is 'Gigantic,' an early single, fronted by bassist Kim Deal. Despite containing little in the way of pop melody (that was saved for Doolittle in 1989), it is relentlessly catchy.
The first two Pixies albums are two masterful, and fairly different items of evidence showing that Kurt Cobain, as good as he was, was a mere pretender to their throne. I recommend buying the more accessible Doolittle first, but follow it up with this, the more hardcore, dirtier, filthier, nastier precursor.