Coming off the poppy and straightforward Forget, Xiu Xiu have returned with one of their most unsettling and horrific albums yet.
This is not an easy listen, and I would say that part of the point lead singer Jamie Stewart is trying to make.
Playing like an abrasive yet seductive trip. The production on this album is chaotic in nature with Stewart at the helm.
In an “Ask Me Anything” on Reddit, Stewart himself described his process for the album.
“We were interested in Haitian and Yoruba drumming and horrible sounding synths and went from there.”
While Stewart jokes here, this is the basis for many of the songs on here. Pumpkin Attack on Mommy and Daddy starts with a broken synth dropping in and out of the song, while Girl with a Basket of Fruit begins with a Yoruba drumming style and the madness of the rest of the track is built from there.
Tribalistic drums echo in the back of many songs providing the only sense of rhythm, while a lone violin or synth take front and center, coursing through yet providing no comfort. Stewart’s vocals only add to the madness, sometimes screaming at the top of his lungs with no production behind, sometimes whispering through piercing screams of the backing vocals.
Although there is that barrier of industrial noise that may turn off many new listeners, this album is absolutely worth the sit through. Stewart’s lyrics are incredibly poignant on the topic of the abuse of women in the world, really detailing horrific events many of them go through. This can also be seen as a barrier, but Stewart uses this almost therapeutically, using the negativity in his life and in the world and internalizing it into an extremely dark, yet cathartic piece of art.
Take a look at the official music video for “Pumpkin Attack on Mommy and Daddy” below:
Mason Zeller is a Cal Poly environmental management and protection freshman and a KCPR staff member. Image credit to Xiu Xiu.