Xiu Xiu – Women As Lovers (2008): Review

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Label – Kill Rock Stars

Jamie Stewart without doubt likes to challenge himself to the very edge, almost pushing himself beyond the boundaries of his profound artistic creativity into realms of self satisfying introspective musical pretension. For the few blinding moments he can muster up something positively memorable, there’s a heavy price for the listener to pay trawling through weird and unrewarding avant garde experimentation. “Women As Lovers” continues the usual direction that his albums have been taking recently; a pile of inconsequential nonsense hiding a couple of half decent songs and one outstanding contribution which as it happens he didn’t write. His manically outrageous cover of the Queen/David Bowie number 1 “Under Pressure” is unsettling, unexpected, untethered but completely exhilarating. The use of three vocalists (Stewart, Michael Gira, and Caralee McElroy ) forms the vital component of this successful interpretation, as Gira rasps like a geriatric, whilst there’s girlishly sweet overtones from McElroy, and Stewart’s emotional yelps. It’s totally insane, yet lovable in equal measures.

xiu xiu 2

Sadly, this is the one of the few highlights of a dreary, self indulgent recording which avoids obvious melodies, fumbles with fiddly rhythms, and seems so desperate to hunt the deliberately obscure as to lose all resonance with the listener. The slower numbers are mainly lamentable, pained odes, flat and cold (“Master Of The Bump”, “Puff And Bunny”). The rhythms are often over complicated and too oblique and although there is an intention to represent a colourful mix by using numerous instruments there has to be a tune to follow, which in this case is all too rare. For that reason, avoid the musically directionless “In Lust You Can Hear The Axe Fall”, “Guantanamo Canto”, “Child At Arms” and “White Nerd”.

“Women As Lovers” makes the term “structured” obsolete. A rag bag of semi ideas, vague, flimsy compositions that frankly don’t form any lasting impression other than reaching for the stop button.

4/10

Track Listing
1.”I Do What I Want, When I Want” – 3:12
2.”In Lust You Can Hear the Axe Fall” – 3:30
3.”F.T.W.” – 2:56
4.”No Friend Oh!” –3:48
5.”Guantanamo Canto” – 2:37
6.”Under Pressure” [ft. Michael Gira] – 3:30
7.”Black Keyboard” – 3:57
8.”Master of the Bump (Kurt Stumbaugh, I Can Feel the Soil Falling Over My Head)” – 3:55
9.”You Are Pregnant You, You Are Dead” – 2:16
10.”The Leash” – 2:15
11.”Child at Arms” – 2:52
12.”Puff and Bunny” – 2:51
13.”White Nerd” – 2:45
14.”Gayle Lynn” – 3:13

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