20. Joey Santiago and Black Francis—The Pixies
Listening to the Pixies today, it’s hard to figure why they were so widely praised as such a tuneful band, what with Frank Black screaming and snarling like a beast all the time, hitting a melody only when Kim Deal forcefully drags him over to the chorus. Their secret is Black and Joey Santiago’s ongoing guitar duel, which sees them stacking hooks on top of each other. Check Surfer Rosa’s “Broken Face” for a prime example of this; the two ram together crashing chords and a wailing bent note on what passes for the verse before meeting up for a footrace of a riff on the chorus. Over four albums for British indie 4AD (the band itself was from Boston), the Pixies expanded on this dynamic, learning to slow down and take the edge off just enough to score a hit like “Here Comes Your Man,” but even that sports layers upon layers of guitar.