Written By: Fletcher Bonin
The music group Xiu Xiu is the brainchild of Jamie Stewart, the only consistent member of the band since its inception in 2002. Still alive and well in 2017, they have recently released the ten track studio album entitled Forget. Consistent with their musical history, the album is heavily experimental, verging most nearly to the ambiguous category of art rock. Stewart’s sometimes wavering, sometimes moaning vocals give the album its unique sound. He is backed by humming, pulsating instrumentals composed of equal parts live instruments and electronica edits.
Forget is in the alternative category but Xiu Xiu’s style varies so differently from track to track that it would be both impossible and unfair to label them so simply. At times their sound is mechanical, futuristic and robotic as on tracks like ‘The Call’. This track also careens between rap and glam rock style singing, adding to the texture and depth of the group’s music. Other tracks are much looser, leaning towards atmosphere music with lighter, more ethereal electronica backbeats. This happens on tracks like ‘Hay Choco Bananas’, making Xiu Xiu even harder to classify. I would be lying if I said that all of Forget is a pleasure to listen to. In reality, the music is heavy and often quite dark, making this easy listening’s classical opposite. But this doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t give it a try. I assure you it’s like nothing you are currently streaming right now.
I always maintain a respect for the most experimental corners of the current music spectrum. Anything that pressures mainstream pop, rap, and EDM to being better, more challenging, hungry as ever, I think is worth paying attention to. It is group’s like Xiu Xiu that reject mainstream appeals that keeps musical expression alive. Without music like this, music’s motion would be stagnant and unchallenged.
So yes, Xiu Xiu’s sound is haunting and in many ways unsettling to listen to. But this jarring quality is sometimes exactly what your musical palate needs to reset itself, to remain vigilant to the beauty of uniqueness itself. That being said, I actually do have to say that I quite enjoyed the songs ‘Wondering’ and ‘Get Up’. Both of these were originally released as singles and feature a more upbeat tone and pace, reminiscent of electro-experimental groups like MGMT. I urge you, next time you are scouring Pandora for new artists in frustration over all your music merging into one bass thumping sound, remember Forget.