I was originally going to do this awhile ago, but I didn't think anyone would be interested. Spumkin asked me yesterday on Twitter what Pixies albums I would recommend so I decided to do a short guide to their short discography. (I'm not going to talk too much about whats on these since you need to discover it for yourself, I'll just give some general thoughts.)
First off, to decide if you like The Pixies or not please watch this music video:
The Pixies are a band that you'll either love till you die or hate with all your being, I don't think there's much in between. Debaser is their essence boiled into one song and a pretty good litmus test for new fans. If that song grabbed you, then you're officially hooked. If it didn't then I'm sorry. No, I'm really sorry that you can't enjoy The Pixies. Have fun listening to your Bon Jovi albums. As for the rest of us...
Come on Pilgrim
Despite being their first official recording, this isn't a very good place to start. Most bands first albums are a bit shaky and Frank Black and Co. are no exception. That's not to say that it's not a good album (actually a short sample of an early demo tape) in fact it's incredible in it's own way, but there's other stuff you should listen to first. Like...
Surfer Rosa (1998)
This is where it's at ladies and gentlemen. This album changed my life. It's partially responsible for the being that types before you. It rocked my world the first time I heard it and it continues to do so now. This is the one that you should get first, this brilliant messy awesome piece of awesomeness. It's the band at their most energetic, Frank Black at his most weird lyrically, and Kim Deal even gets to write and sing a song, which would happen less and less as time went on. I listened to this for years, afraid to get the next album because I was afraid it would never be as good. Was it?
Yes. It might even be better than Surfer Rosa, I really can't decide between the two, it's like picking between my children. It's still fucking essential. It's a bit poppier and slicker than Rosa but there's so many good songs on it that doesn't fucking matter. I love every song on here but it's insane how many standouts there are, how many defining songs they recorded on this one album. Most bands only get in one or two per album, Doolittle has six! So should you stop here?
No. Bossanova may be The Pixies worst album, but that in no way means it's bad, in fact it still has some of their best songs on it. I can't really understand why fans hate it so much. I think maybe it's because it's so different, instead of the maniac energy of their early albums, this has more of a laid back surfer rock feel. Plus Kim Deal isn't present on as much of it, which is a huge bummer. (For more Kim Deal please check out her side band The Breeders.)
Trompe Le Monde (1991)
Bastards got their energy back didn't they? And Frank Black's obsession with aliens and space comes full force. And Kim is pushed even further into the background. And then the band breaks up. It's a Hell of a last album though. Most bands would just throw out a half ass piece of crap at this point, but The Pixies gave it their all till the end. So that's it right? Sorta.
Complete 'B' Sides (2001)
Yeah, you need this. You know you do. Even Pixies throwaway tracks are worth filling your ear-holes with.
At the BBC (1998)
This is the only Pixies album I have that I'm not too big on. It's not bad, it's just the only one that's inessential, consisting mostly of lackluster live tracks of their better studio stuff. It's too bad too because the band was killer live usually. There are some stand out tracks, however. It's almost worth a buy to hear the band rip The Beatles Honey Pie to fucking shreds and to get the best version of their cover of the lady in the radiator song from Eraserhead.
So there you have it. Skip all the compilations and just get the albums, man! Revel in the beauty and ugliness, the weirdness, the brief lovely mess that was The Pixies.