Amazingly, the Pixies' 1987 debut EP, Come on Pilgrim, was compiled from the quickly, inexpensively made demo tape -- paid for by Black Francis' dad -- the band made at Boston's legendary Fort Apache studio soon after they formed. 4AD was so taken with the tape that they released eight of the songs as this mini-album. It's easy to see why they were so impressed: The Pixies' essential sound -- Francis' unearthly shriek of a voice, David Lovering's propulsive drumming, Joey Santiago's insistent, prickly guitar playing, and Kim Deal's sugar-and-sandpaper vocals and steady basslines -- arrives fully formed on songs like the bouncy, yet twisted, surfer-girl ode "Ed Is Dead." Influences like '80s college rock peers the Violent Femmes, the Stooges, Lou Reed, and hardcore punk crop up on songs like "I've Been Tired," the group's surreal take on sexual frustration, and "Isla de Encanta." Most importantly, the EP introduces the spooky, theatrical vision the group brought to their simple guitar-bass-drums lineup. Francis' lyrical fetishes for sex, death, and religion and his twisted sense of humor crop up on every track, from the eerie opener "Caribou," which urges listeners to "Reeeeepent!," to the final song, "Levitate Me," which borrows Christian folksinger Larry Norman's catchphrase: "Come on pilgrim, you know he loves you!" "The Holiday Song" and "Nimrod's Son" provide voyeuristic, back-to-back glimpses at incest, as well as the priceless lyric, "My sister held me close and whispered to my bleeding head/You are the son of a motherf*cker" (from "Nimrod's Son"). Gary Smith's less-is-more production allows the full, primal impact of the band's combustive sound to blast through, offering what may be the purest version of their perverse punk-pop. An electrifying debut, Come on Pilgrim remains as raw, vibrant, and engaging as the day it was recorded.
Share this page
AllMusic Review by Heather Phares