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Essential listening, but (whisper it) it hasn't aged so well
on 25 February 2009
For me, time has not been kind to Pixies - as an artsy teenager in the late 80s, I loved their first three releases up to Doolittle and saw them play brilliantly live at Reading.
I was first introduced to Surfer Rosa at a time when 99% of my schoolfriends were content listening to the prevailing chart tosh - Kylie and Jason, Sonia, Bros. Late one night at a party, one of my cooler sixth-form friends put the album on the tape player; it was loud, screechy, hi-energy, low-fi and just about the most exciting thing I'd ever heard (I had yet to discover the Jesus And Mary Chain).
It had an attitude that defiantly thumbed its nose, nay flipped the finger, at the well-polished but vacuous chart fodder of the time and appealed to the teenage rebel in me; I loved it and was hooked.
So, after a gap of about 15 years since my last listen, I finally re-purchased this twin-album CD and realised something had changed in the intervening years; it just didn't sound that great any more. Why not ?
Well, mainly, grunge happened. It crossed over into the mainstream and created a new audience ready for all sorts of bands that would otherwise have been consigned to the underground. Bands who owe their sound and success to musical pioneers like Pixies, Sonic Youth et al but who are more adept and sophisticated song-writers.
Surfer Rosa, then, is essential listening for anyone who wants to understand where so-called "alternative" music came from and why it matters. Moreover, as Pixies first full-length release (here handily packaged with their original EP) it is an album of great historical significance and certainly merits a place in any serious record collection. But it does sound a bit dated now.