On their 1990 debut album Pod, the Breeders -- led by the Pixies' Kim Deal and Throwing Muses' Tanya Donelly -- prove that they have more potential, and more fun, than the average side project. In fact, thanks to the album's creative songwriting, immediate production (courtesy of Surfer Rosa producer Steve Albini), and clever arrangements, Pod is a fresher and more successful work than the Pixies' Bossanova and the Muses' Hunkpapa, their main projects' releases from around that time. Though the album doesn't feature as many of Donelly's contributions as was originally planned -- which was part of the reason she formed Belly a few years later -- songs like "Iris" and "Lime House" blend the best of the Pixies' elliptical punk and the Muses' angular pop. Pod reaffirms what a distinctive songwriter Deal is, and how much the Pixies missed out on by not including more of her material on their albums. With their unusual subjects -- "Hellbound" is about a living abortion -- and quirky-but-direct sound, songs like "Opened" and "When I Was a Painter" could have easily fit on Doolittle or Bossanova. But the spare, sensual "Doe," "Fortunately Gone," and "Only in Threes" are more lighthearted and good-natured than the work of Deal's other band, pointing the way to the sexy, clever alternative pop she'd craft on Last Splash. A vibrantly creative debut, Pod remains the Breeders' most genuine moment.