Xiu Xiu, Fabulous Muscles

Known as much for its abject refusal to bend to the rules of pop music as for its ability to so easily create wonderful ‘pop,’ Xiu Xiu has always presented a conundrum, a mystery to expectant listeners around the world. With its latest release, Xiu Xiu may have redefined what we expect from music now, equal parts challenge and listenability. All in all, a new reason to keep listening to new music.

The disturbing imagery is, as ever, present, and to a far more intense degree. The rejection of our happy way of everyday life that works very easily in eloquent invectives against everything and everyone, including, believe it or not, the troops in Iraq (‘Support Our Troops Oh! (Black Angels Oh!)’). And, almost more unbelievably, with a convincing argument, though most anyone would be loathe to admit it.

The musical agenda is: Anything goes. There really is no format. The instrumentation varies, becomes impossible to identify, as overwhelming as the music’s effect is upon your consciousness. Frantic, then soft. Swelling up, swooning down, warbling vocals send us inward, thinking. As really they should, when you consider it.

The real key to Xiu Xiu’s newest effort is, however, in its overt accessibility. Where a band made music nobody—seriously, like, not many people at all—could stand listening to, now it’s making very much the same kind of music, but in a way more people can listen to. It’s like a sinister trick, or perhaps the most brilliant ever, as it sends an honest, emotion-filled message out to the world, but in a more appealing package, even though emotions rarely are.

And that is truly an amazing thing to witness.


Andrew Womack is a founding editor of The Morning News. He is always working on the next installment of the Albums of the Year series at TMN. More by Andrew Womack

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