Label: Polyvinyl Records
In the fifteen years since their inception, Xiu Xiu have always had a limited appeal to anything resembling the mainstream. The band’s best known tracks detail depression, suicide and fucked-up sex amidst a ceaseless raging storm of musical styles that both complement and clash with each other, creating a warped and truly unique view of experimental pop.
However, on last year’s Plays the Music of Twin Peaks, Xiu Xiu were able to channel their genius into something already widely-known and loved. It brought them a whole new buzz of excitement – and on their new LP Forget, the band forge ahead with one of their more accessible records. Lead single ‘Wondering’ is pure, brilliant irreverent synth pop – and although the rest of the record has all the drama and experimentation expected, it remains hook-laden and buoyant throughout – even when it blisters with dark, noisy intensity (like the repetition of “what’s your name? / fucking nothing” beneath jarring electronics in ‘Queen of the Losers’).
It might not hit immediately, but every track here is great in some way. ‘Get Up’ lurks behinds Jamie Stewart’s fraught and almost manic vocal delivery until bursting with a joyous synth hook. The title track and ‘Faith Torn Apart’ raise the stakes a little, building tense, meditative soundscapes out of layered chants, percussion and electronics. The latter sees Stewart adopting an enigmatic persona for a unnerving spoken word section, closing the LP with the words “it doesn’t matter what you think. Do anything you like, ‘cause I was born dead, and I was born to die.”
Forget might not be the definitive Xiu Xiu record, but it shows them at their best – in places wounded, abrasive, serene and surreal, often all these and more at once. There’s too much creativity here to waste endless adjectives describing it: the only ones you need are “weird as shit” and “incredible”.
Words by Joe Gilbertson