Xiu Xiu, Knife Play

This is a very personal album. A look at singer Jamie Stewart’s message on the cover sticker says it immediately: ‘When my mom died I listened to Henry Cowell, Joy Division, Detroit techno, the Smiths, Takemitsu, Sabbath, Gamelan, ‘Black Angels’ and Cecil Taylor.’ Nothing held back here. No real pretensions to hide behind. It’s grandiose music, without a doubt, and brave: Xiu Xiu is willing to travel down a lot of darkened streets many of us would rather pretend not to notice. A lot of morbid imagery present here. A lot of pain explored over these eleven tracks.

And that cover sticker will tell you just about everything you need to know about Xiu Xiu’s sound. If you like those things, you’ll like this. Well, that’s not entirely true…

This really is an album that people either love or hate. Listen to it alone for a while, learn its idiosyncrasies, revel in its quirks. And then try playing it for someone else. My statistical research has to this point proven that one out of every six people likes Knife Play. That one person, though, will adore it. I’m hoping you’ll be that person.


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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