Just when you thought it couldn't get any darker.
I've been listening to Xiu Xiu a lot lately, mainly because it just fits. It's nothing really surprising. I didn't really like A Promise, and even though I tend to like it better now than I did before, I still think Knife Play is much better. On Fag Patrol album Jamie Stewart sings Xiu Xiu songs, with just a guitar, a harmonium, a cello and no screeches.
A few weeks ago, when I first heard the record I was feeling really weird, completely exhausted and quite depressed. I'm feeling better now, but you can keep on sending cheer up messages. Xiu Xiu is a great companion for depression. The band's music stops sounding weird and inhospitable when you reach a certain point and everything starts to make sense. Apistat Commander, Xiu Xiu's best song so far in my humble opinion, never fails to move me. At first I was a little scared of this acoustic record. Was he going to do it the wild way and scream and cry on top of just an acoustic guitar or just keep it low ? Actually, and mostly to my surprise, Jamie Stewart delivers almost simple, bare songs. And most of them end up being incredibly dark. I tried to listen to it with a friend and it just didn't fit. Maybe it's music to be listened to on your own. There are nine songs on this cd, I Broke Up and Dr Troll from Knife Play, Jennifer Lopez and King Earth, King Earth from the Chapel of the Chimes ep, Brooklyn Dodgers and 20,000 Deaths for Eidelyn Gonzales, 20,000 Deaths for Jamie Peterson from A Promise, a Smiths cover (Asleep), Helsabot, which was written, performed and released by Jamie Stewart and Cory Mc Culloch when they were fronting Ten in the Swear Jar and Nieces Pieces, a brand new song.
Stewart and McCulloch succeeded in keeping the intensity of the album tracks while adding a good piece of intimacy, there are no longer weird bells to distract you from the lyrics. Dr Troll sounds like it's out of Lou Reed's Berlin and the A Promise songs are more straightforward and less hermetic. Jennifer Lopez is still bulldozer-like but its layered progression sounds clearer. Brooklyn Dodgers is not really recognizable and really really good. Asleep is alright, I've never been a big Smiths fan anyway. I Broke Up, which is probably the most representative of Xiu Xiu's songs sounds mellower, and the two lines that shocked you during the first listen of Knife Play (and a few ones after) are no longer shouted hysterically but whispered. I realized that until I listened to Fag Patrol I hadn't really understood what Stewart was singing. It was dark enough I guess. It's probably the main reason why I think this is Xiu Xiu's darkest record so far : you understand what he's singing. It's moving and beautiful in a repulsive way. This is probably why I don't listen to it that much, I think it frightens me.
can't wait to watch you get older
can't wait to meet the first boy that breaks your life
can't wait till you realize the family you've been born into
can't wait to watch you turn from good to bad
can't wait to tell you that grandpa made your mommy play stripper while your uncle watched
can't wait to tell you that I punched your mommy in the chest in front of her friends
can't wait till you realize your mommy's heart is broken
can't wait to watch you grow up around the people who broke it
ps: the handmade packaging looks cool, the cd is limited to 1000 copies and quite hard to find, it's available from Absolutely Kosher (www.absolutelykosher.com) and Free Porcupine Society (firstname.lastname@example.org)
/june 1st 2003/