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Xiu Xiu
La Foret
5RC, 2005


When it comes to Xiu Xiu, it's hate it or love it, as Fifty Cent and the Game would say. And if you look, just above, at the five filled-in boxes, you know what side of that binary I'm coming from. Here's why: no one - absolutely no one - is making music as emotive, as harrowing, as simultaneously cacophonous and spare, as honest, as add- your-adjective-ad infinitum, as Jamie Stewart and his ensemble are at this moment. To say that, over five years, Stewart has penned some of the most brutal lyrical passages in memory is nearly an understatement, just as it is to say that his vocal presence is one of rock's most unnerving and divisive.

Expect nothing less from La Foret, Xiu Xiu's fourth record in as many years. Example: a passage from "Saturn," a song about George W, finds Stewart threatening, "I will shoot this arrow right up anus and you'll taste what we taste / I will stab it right through the bottom of your mouth / you'll taste...what you make them taste", all to a blend of delicate whistles, plaintive strings, and industrial stomp (just a small piece of the diverse sonic palette that Stewart has drawn from on this noisy, melodic masterpiece). It's a personal, intimate violation, the type Xiu Xiu has made familiar and continues to on La Foret. These are songs about horrible times in horrible lives; hearts are rotten long before they break and the sounds they make are awful and haunting and beautiful.

Rob Albanese
July 21, 2005

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