4ad records - 2004 - 66 minutes

Pixies fans will surely welcome 'Wave of Mutilation', the new Best Of album, as a pleasant bonus to their collection despite it being a release they could probably have lived without. The recent 'Death to the Pixies' did a thorough job of highlighting the band's best album (and live) moments, while the release of 'Complete B-Sides' should have provided enough obscure recordings for the average Pixies devotee.

That said, 'Wave of Mutilation' conveniently chronicles all the Pixies' best album tracks with a smattering of accomplished B-sides mixed in, thus deserving a niche in the market as the ultimate Pixies quick-fix.

Opener 'Bone Machine' from their 1988 album 'Surfer Rosa' is placed first for a reason, its noisy, brash and frankly discordant sound kick-starting the album like a statement of intent. From here the sequence backtracks to cover three numbers from the Pixies' 1987 debut, 'Come On Pilgrim' - frantic, screechy efforts of which 'Holiday Song' is the most accessible, its Blue Oyster Cult-ish motif rendering it infinitely more listenable than the jarring 'Nimrod's Son' or the whiny 'Caribou'.

'Surfer Rosa' is represented by the soaring 'Gigantic', reminding us that Kim Deal should really have been allowed more creative input. The screechy falsetto of 'Broken Face' and the Spanish-influenced 'Vamos' also show glimpses of the band's as-yet unrealised full potential.

For many, the middle third will be where the album really hits its stride, as it runs the majestic gauntlet of 1989's polished 'Doolittle', the Pixies' supreme synthesis of melody and attitude.

'Hey' sets the tone for the album's style - triumphant melody punctuated by abrasive lyrics, overlaid with an echoing staccato chorus. 'Monkey Gone to Heaven' exults in smoothness, with its crisp and simple signature bassline and Black Francis's (for once) practically silken voice. The anthemic 'Debaser', arguably their best-known song, showcases to perfection the Pixies Paradox - smooth melodies juxtaposed with outlandish lyrics ('slicing up eyeballs oh ho ho ho ho').

Title track 'Wave of Mutilation', a melodic, rousing pop tune, could perhaps be applied allegorically to the Pixies' lighting-like assault on the late 80s music scene. The classic 'Here Comes Your Man' is incessantly catchy with its faux-folksy, jump-around sound, while the glorious 'Where is my Mind?', with its plaintive intro, is vintage Pixies.

'Into the White' is the first B-side - a treat for fans looking for gentler material, its acoustic guitar sound complemented by Deal's breathy vocals. 1990's 'Bossanova' is represented best by 'Velouria' and 'Allison'. The former, with its almost hymnal quality, exhibits a marked maturity in the Pixies' songwriting. The short and snappy 'Allison' is much poppier, its existence as a love song itself surprising in its conventionality.

'U-Mass', 'Alec Eiffel' and 'Planet of Sound' from 1991's 'Trompe Le Monde' fail to scale the dizzy heights of earlier albums, while closing song 'Winterlong', taken from 'Complete B-sides' is the Pixies' only cover - an interesting re-working of a Neil Young song.

'Wave of Mutilation' may have nothing new to offer but just skimming through the recording dates inspires wonder at how influential the Pixies actually were. Granted, that influence has been overestimated and over-trumpeted, but if nothing else this serves as a great rallying call to join Black Francis, Kim Deal, Joey Santiago and David Lovering on their long-overdue reunion tour this summer.

Tom Grealis

Tracklisting: Bone Machine - Nimrod's Son - Holiday Song - Caribou - Broken Face - Gigantic - Vamos - Hey - Monkey Gone To Heaven - Debaser - Gouge Away - Wave of Mutilation - Here Comes Your Man - Tame - Where Is My Mind? - Into The White - Velouria - Allison - Dig For Fire - U-Mass - Alec Eiffel - Planet of Sound - Winterlong