Doolittle is their most famous album and for understandable reasons. It's more even keel than Surfer Rosa and better mannered, too, forgoing the harsh live sound of Steve Albini for the lush, almost folksy one of Gil Norton, who had previously worked with marshmallows like Echo and the Bunnymen.
Its songs take aim at the big things important art is sometimes supposed to: good and evil, environmental ruin, Bible stories, death. "Monkey Gone to Heaven" features some allegory about the ozone layer, which in the late 1980s had the same conversational weight and place as "climate change"; "Gouge Away" flirts with Catholicism. "Hey" is practically their "Like a Prayer," an oblique gospel anchored by the premise that we too may one day break free our earthly bonds and ascend—a trope art has worked with for much longer than rock music has been around.
It's in Doolittle's margins—the faux-hillbilly cackling of "Mr. Grieves," "There Goes My Gun" and "Dead"—that the album becomes what it really is. At heart, the Pixies were a kind of American goth band, fascinated by rural violence, the intersection of lust and danger, creepy innkeepers and the sexual magnetism of strangers who wander into roadside cafés from parts unknown.
Their biggest crossover single, "Here Comes Your Man," is less tied to European dada than the rustic imagery of a pulp paperback: The boxcar, the nowhere plains, the big stone and the broken crown.