Xiu Xiu

A Promise
/5 rue christine; 2003/

rating : 6



more info:

feb 1st, 7pm

For the first time in a little while I'm feeling down and stupid. I keep on listening to Xiu Xiu's Apistat Commander over and over again. It's my favourite song on Xiu Xiu's second album, exhilarating and terribly touching. The main reason why I love Xiu Xiu so much is because they're able, when they feel like doing it, to make you feel even downer than you were before you listened to the song. So the more I listen to it the sadder I am, and I can't really listen to anything else either. 

feb 7th, 5pm

I'm feeling much better and to be frank I didn't really have the time to listen to A Promise. I mean, I listened to it a couple of times last week but it somehow failed to meet my expectations. I found Apistat Commander online a couple of weeks before finding the full album, I don't know if it was a calculated move or not, but still, when i heard the song I thought that the album would be awesome, i couldn't really think that it was the best song on the album. So. Apistat Commander's unbelievable chorus deserves legitimate praise. Yet the album is not as cohesive as the two previous releases by the band, their hauntingly catchy debut lp, Knife Play and their more arty ep Chapel of the Chimes. I was looking forward to more dance music for desperately sad people and apart from the very Joy Division-esque Apistat Commander the songs fail to make me feel like dancing like there's no tomorrow. Quick overview of the album : Sad Pony Guerilla Girl is a folk song featuring just singer Jamie Stewart an acoustic guitar and discreet computerized arrangements. Apistat Commander kicks ass. Walnut House sounds, well, bad. 20,000 deaths for Eidelyn Gonzales, 20,000 deaths for Jamie Peterson shows a less punk, more contemporary Xiu Xiu, it's a sad IDM song. Pink City is a little too grandiloquent. Sad Redux-o-grapher is an alternate version of Sad Cory-o-grapher which was on a 5rc compilation. And I like the first version better, even though the redux version is alright. Blacks sounds more familiar, but here again it sounds like the band is trying really hard to sound somewhere between weird and arty. Most of the time it sounds like Knife Play's punk straightforwardness is gone. Just like in Brooklyn Dodgers, for example, in which the band tries to explore too many territories at once and only succeed in losing the listener, if not themselves, on the way. The cover of Tracy Chapman's Fast Car sounds good. In the final song, Ian Curtis Wishlist, Stewart sings "oh what will happen ?" in a ghostly way but, surprisingly enough, it fails to move me. He's screaming but I don't know why. On Knife Play he was the unreal embodiment of despair and discontentment. The band was certainly less creative but much more impressive and convincing. Apart from Apistat Commander, which is probably the best song they've written so far, A Promise fails to satisfy me. Knife Play was filled with sad stories of death love suicide and disease, and you could feel through Stewart's voice that everything was painfully real. He fails to make me feel empathetic this time. Maybe it's just me.  

feb 13th, 6 pm

I interviewed Greg and Chris from Deerhoof two days ago and we ended up talking about Xiu Xiu and A Promise since Deerhoof and Xiu Xiu are friends. Greg likes A Promise a lot and all his points were valid : A Promise is quieter and ends up being paradoxically more confrontational, because you can't escape Jamie Stewart's voice and you can't help but hear what he's saying. It's more confrontational, yes. But on my way home, still thinking about the album I wondered why the angst sounded less real to me than on knife play. I think that what annoys me is the deliberate wish to shock. Knife Play was shocking, lyrically and musically but it wasn't (or it didn't feel like it was) a deliberate move, there were actual songs with hooks behind the noise. I tried, and it saddens me, but all the songs behind the "shocking" elements -Stewart's voice, his lyrics and his bandmates' sonic experiments- are not as good as most of the songs the band has released before.

-Barbara H

/feb 15th 2003/