Combining jagged, roaring guitars and stop-start dynamics with melodic pop hooks, intertwining male-female harmonies, and evocative, cryptic lyrics, Pixies were one of the most influential alternative rock bands. They were inventive, rabid rock fans who turned conventions inside-out: On albums such as 1988's Surfer Rosa and 1989's Doolittle, they melded punk and indie guitar rock, classic pop, surf rock, and stadium-sized riffs with singer/guitarist Black Francis' bizarre, fragmented lyrics about space, religion, sex, mutilation, and pop culture. While the meaning of his lyrics may have been impenetrable, the music was direct, forceful, and laid the groundwork for the alternative explosion of the early '90s. From grunge to Brit-pop, Pixies' shadow loomed large; it's hard to imagine Nirvana without Pixies' signature stop-start dynamics and lurching, noisy guitar solos. However, the band's commercial success didn't match its impact -- MTV was reluctant to play their videos, while modern rock radio didn't put their singles into regular rotation. By the time Nirvana broke the doors down for alternative rock in 1992, Pixies were effectively broken up. During the rest of the '90s and into the 2000s, they continued to inspire acts ranging from Weezer, Radiohead, and PJ Harvey to the Strokes and Arcade Fire. Pixies' 2004 reunion was as surprising as it was welcome, and the band's frequent tours led them to record albums including 2016's Head Carrier, which continued the sound of their groundbreaking early work.