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.
July 21, 2005