Artist: Xiu Xiu
Album: Girl with Basket of Fruit
Genre: Experimental/Art Rock/Noise
“Xiu Xiu” are an interesting band to say the least. Lead by sole member Jamie Stewart, this vastly eccentric band have been making music since the early 2000’s. Music that has gained admirers for their brash experimentation soaked in tumult, and also music that has gained detractors who find the band incredibly grating. I understand both parties to be honest, because whether the band are creating disturbing songs about double penetration, or reimagining the soundtrack to David Lynch’s “Twin Peaks,” one thing is certain, their music is not easy to listen to. On one hand I’ll admire the band’s uncompromising style, and on the other I can find them immensely self-indulgent and utterly repulsive, but that’s why I find the band so damn intriguing. By now, going into a “Xiu Xiu” album, I expect to hear some bizarre shit, but somehow the band managed to achieve what I thought was impossible after so many years, the band managed to make their most uncomfortable, disgusting, insane, and off putting album yet with Girl with Basket of Fruit, and it’s in my opinion their best work. This album sounds like the mindset of someone who is losing their entire God damn mind. Filled with ramblings of nonsensical words I’ve tried to decipher but have failed greatly, this album is a haunting nightmare-inducing experience. The album opens with the title track, an off the wall Hell ride that features abrasive tribal drums, manic sound textures, and Jamie’s obnoxious vocals with graphic lyrics detailing frogs jumping up a woman’s butthole, fucking a duck, and floating dicks. Yeah, it’s so absurd and humorous that even Jamie is aware enough to scream “Stop Laughing!” in the middle of one of the verses. The psychotic nature heightens even more on the following track “It Comes Out As A Joke,” where Jamie sounds like he’s in the midst of a bad acid trip while he destroys everything in his room. Picture Bob Geldof destroying his guitars and breaking furniture in Pink Floyd’s “The Wall.” It’s that kind of intensity but this song is even worse and makes that particular scene look like “Sesame Street.” The more ambient tracks like “Armargi ve Moo,” or “Ice Cream Truck” are more somber in tone, but are no less bizarre, with Jamie continuing to frantically rant these cryptic lyrics, and scathing violin that is the complete opposite of beautiful. Odd instrumental choices like these frequently appear throughout the album, like the weird chicken sound effects and incomprehensible audio clips on “Pumpkin Attack on Mommy and Daddy,” or the atmospheric sounds with tribalistic drums that echo the opening track on “Scisssssssors,” and with the bass in this production turned abrasively up and sounding intentionally messy, it’s clear that the band wanted to create their most unsettling album yet, and my have they succeeded. Can this album become a bit of a gimmick at times? Most definitely, but what prevents this album from becoming a complete parody of “Industrial” or “Noise” music is that we all know by now the artistry of the band is completely sincere. They’re never about shock for shock’s sake, and Jamie sings on these tracks with overwhelming passion, but what most of these songs mean, whether they’re metaphoric or just flat-out nonsense is beyond me. I just strap myself in and enjoy this psychotic ride with a smile on my face. Maybe I need help.
Written By: Steven Sandoval