i am so thankful that this album is good. after last years shiny and uneven the air force, i was a bit worried that they might be heading down the “pop” road. well, as pop as xiu xiu can be anyway. this time around xiu xiu is a proper band, which was another worry of mine. xiu xiu has generally been the brainchild of the wonderfully skewered jamie stewart. i often compare him to bjork, he has a grasp of sonic composition and vocal abstraction similar to hers. so i was concerned that too many hands might get involved and ruin the soup.
from the first note i could tell that this was going to be a fantastic album. the album is full of a tortured mix of beautiful noise that only xiu xiu can create. since xiu xiu albums always have more of a collage feel about them, it is hard to say who does what. jamie’s voice has always been the core of xiu xiu’s sound, he sings like he is teetering on the edge of a skyscraper roof wondering if he is going to be pushed off or saved. i have to quote the pitchfork review, for as pretentious as they can get there, they describe jamie’s songwriting perfectly.
” …stewart’s willingness to revolt audiences with squeamish personal details that make him seem more scarily fucked-up than sensitive or emotionally open is what makes his music unique. his art seems to be more about who he is than who he’d like to be, and it’s the tension between the mores of taste and stewart’s honesty that brings us back, despite ourselves, time and again.”
it is really hard for me to choose stand out tracks on woman as lovers, this album is an instant classic for me. i will mention their cover of bowie/queen’s “under pressure” featuring michael gira. a surprisingly straight forward cover that brings true emotion to the lyrics that i have never paid attention to before. gira’s grounded vocals are the perfect antithesis to jamie’s whispered scream.
xiu xiu’s music is not for everyone, i would definably classify them as music that hurts kitties. but if you like your music a bit difficult, music you really have to listen to, this album is for you.
the first single, “i do what i want, when i want”