The emotion and the power, two elements in Xiu Xiu’s music that I find myself infatuated with. The emotion, is alive in all the sounds of lead singer Jamie Stewart’s voice, his lyrics and delivery, and the depression and anger he puts in to every single song. There is also a sense of power, a power in the music and in the soul[lessness] of everything. Fabulous Muscles is arguably Xiu Xiu’s best album, but also their most poppy, a combination not seen very much nowadays. While Xiu Xiu is still a raw mix of electronica and punk, the catch and desire of FM’s songs can not be denied. The front cover is designed in blue and yellow and depicts a sad man rubbing a fake animal against his skin. The cover, from first glance, is almost laughable, but when one takes a closer look he sees how sad it actually is. The album deal with a lot of self questioning through dominance, sexually and politically. Xiu Xiu is a very political band, getting their opinions across in oddly sadistic manners. Support Our Troops OH! Is the most political song on the album, expressing views of war as well as high school clicks through spoken word. The breaks in the vocal speak just as much as any lyrics could, alive with the sound of a dying violin, screaming trumpets and choking guitars. Unfortunately, the most controversial lyrics come, not from the political songs, but from the heart breaking sexual ones. First in Fabulous muscles, a graphic tale of a gay man who meets a straight partner for oral sex, but nothing else. Jamie (the gay man) mumbles about his desire to have a more loving relationship with the man, rather than just with his “Fabulous Muscle”. The second, a story of Jamie’s favorite pre-school child, from the singer’s teaching years. The lyrics tell of Jamie’s wishes for the child’s safety as he watches the child’s older brother molest him.
Jamie’s voice is much like that of Paul Banks (of Interpol). It is a tad to high to gain comparison to Ian Curtis’ (of Joy Division) low moan. The point in which his voice shines most however, is when it breaks out of this growing cliché. Songs like the brilliant I Love the Valley OH! Show Jamie’s voice as its own entity, raw and sarcastic as well as deep and moving. When a voice like Jamie’s is paired with electronic drums and bombastic guitars like ILTVO! It is something truly special. On the other side of things the electronic jazz scapes and string quartet of Clowne Towne show another side of the band. Though the music appears fairly uplifting, a first for the album, the lyrics tell a different tale, as they are full of nasty names and call-outs, as well as dark comments on family. Another striking moment of brilliance from this album comes from dark album opener, Crank Heart, a fiery electronica tune set to a pounding drum beat. The songs blend of synthesizer wizardry should be an influence to all electronic musicians. Synth player Caralee McElroy weaves every thing from synth string ensembles to sharp, raw lead lines and fun ambience into a massive sound without the use of guitar or bass. All the while Jamie repeats the lines, lighting it up
you were so cool
her school colors
Black and light black.
Xiu Xiu’s blend of electronica and intense indie rock brings very profuse images across the brain. If I had to use one image to describe the album it would this: A robot, sitting in a room, listening to heavy punk music and cutting his wrists, so that his cold life forsaken oil spills from a deep gash in his metal appendages. The image is a weird one, but the album is just as weird. It incorporates everything from soft beats and acoustic guitars to sharp sonic squeals and distorted vocals. If there was ever an album to show all of Xiu Xiu’s craziness while remaining (sorta) accessible it would have to be Fabulous Muscles. Clowne Town and I love the Valley OH! Are must downloads.
|other reviews of this album|
Jaime Stewart shows us why he is one of the most influential artists in the modern world of music...
I enjoy Xiu Xiu's electronica influences but I just can't seem to get into their music. I think it's probably the abrsive vocals or the music is just to heavy at moments. Good work on the review.
You have no idea how happy I am that someone reviewed this album. (And a fine review at that )
This is one of my favourite albums, I just love it. The first couple of times I heard it, I thought that the songs just got weirder as they went on. Nearly every song on this album is fantastic. Xiu Xiu release a lot of solid material too and I think they might be one of my favourite bands.
Album Rating: 4.0
Hooray, you did it, nice review, although it seems a bit short but oh well. This album is incredible, probably my favorite of theirs, but it's hard to choose.This Message Edited On 06.19.06
Album Rating: 4.0
This album is fantastic, bout time it got reviewed!
Crank Heart, ILTVO! and Clowne Towne are all exceptional songs. Jamie Stewart is a freak, and I love him.This Message Edited On 12.18.07
Album Rating: 4.0
Great album. Not enough discussion about "I Luv the Valley OH!"
Album Rating: 1.5
A really awful album. Self-indulgent, tuneless, and immature. â€śSupport Our Troopsâ€ť is truly a low point.
my favourite xiu xiu album, so so good
Album Rating: 3.5
last.fm gave me crank heart
Album Rating: 5.0
An awesome album indeed!
Did you know you were going to shoot
off the top of a four year old girl's head
And look across her car-seat down into her skull
And see into her throat and did you know
that her dad would say to you,
"Please sir, can I take her body home?"
Oh wait, you totally did know... that that would happen
Cuz you're a jock who was too stupid and too greedy
And too unmotivated to do anything else but still be
The biggest and still do what other people tell you to do
You did it to still be a winner
You shot your grenade launcher into peoples windows and
Into the doors of peoples houses
but you really wanted to shoot it at someone
just to see them blow up.
why should I care if
"Please sir, can I take her body home?" that line is heartbreaking
Album Rating: 3.5
i need to try this again
feel like i love this more than ever
who don't love a little Xiu Xiu? Support the troops is brilliant, so goddang dark
Album Rating: 4.5
the new nina simone coverf is amazing O_o
Digging: Arsebreed - Butoh
I have concluded that this band rules
Digging: Deathspell Omega - The Furnaces of Palingenesia
people need more xiu xiu on this site