Pixies Doolittle (4AD) Regularly cited as one of the top 10 most influential albums of all time, the second album by Boston alternative rockers the Pixies was instrumental in forming the rough-hewn variant of hardcore punk that became the grunge movement of the mid-1990s. With everyone from Nirvana's Kurt Cobain to David Bowie professing the band's influence, particularly on grunge's loud-quiet-loud dynamic, Doolittle was also one of the first alternative rock albums to appear on mainstream charts on both sides of the Atlantic and continues to sell as many copies today as it did at the height of its popularity. Doolittle came out of the Pixies' hectic touring schedule following the release and critical success of their debut album, Surfer Rosa. Vocalist and frontman Black Francis - born Charles Thompson and later to rename himself Francis Black - had written some of the tracks long before the band went into the studio to begin recording. Jettisoning Surfer Rosa's themes of UFOs, paranormal phenomena and conspiracy theories - Francis' pet interests - Doolittle took on meatier subjects, such as man's relationship with God, biblical stories and surrealism. Opening with Debaser, Francis (above far left) references Dali with the lyrics 'slicing my eyeballs', an homage to a scene in the artist's 1929 movie Un Chien Andalou. The hit single Monkey Gone to Heaven, ostensibly about man's destruction of the environment, throws in the biblical reference 'if man is five, then the devil is six and God is seven'. Doolittle also sees drummer Dave Lovering sing La La Love You, a straightforward love song. Doolittle's impact was immediate and it hit the British top 20, a feat unheard of for an indie band, especially an American one professing to play surfer/speed/death/metal/punk. Soon after it made the Billboard charts. Although Francis declared this to be the band's commercial album, its structure maintained the loud-quiet-loud format that marked Surfer Rosa. It so struck Cobain that he applied the dynamic to Nirvana's own brand of pop-punk, most apparent on the band's huge hit, the Louie Louie aping Smells Like Teen Spirit. It's telling that though the Pixies split acrimoniously four years later, the sense that their best work was yet to come certainly helped make their reunion in 2006 the smoothest and most successful of all the major band reformations of the past few years.