Women As Lovers: a new addiction by Xiu Xiu
J. Gordon
4/4/2008 5:05:47 PM

Do you want a band to stay in one place, to never grow, never stretch, never try anything new? Then Xiu Xiu isn’t the band for you. Their newest album, Women As Lovers [Kill Rock Stars] takes this band’s formerly synth-heavy, poppy sad-sack tracks to smarter, more musically dangerous heights than ever before. And for these critical favorites, that’s saying something.

The first three tunes, “I do what I want, when I want,” “In lust you can hear the axe fall,” and “F.T.W.” are unforgettable, ridiculously cool experiments in noisy melody—and it goes without saying that the lyrics are all painful, confessional peeks into Stewart’s skeleton-loaded closet.

What’s noteworthy about this album is really the sound: Xiu Xiu has taken the best of the past and spun it with some new flavors. They’ve ditched the electronic drums of the last albums and added the beat-muscle of the amazing Ches Smith. A couple of Xiu Xiu’s more daring sonic experiments do fall a bit short on Women As Lovers (the last half of the CD, unfortunately, isn’t nearly as memorable), but the first six or so songs serve up plenty. While we agree with the politics of “Guantanamo Canto,” it’s a little low on the passion comparatively, and that and some of the other tracks occasionally sound a bit muddy. But “No Friend Oh!” is killer-catchy, and the cover of David Bowie and Freddie Mercury’s 1980s hit, “Under Pressure,” is good with an original spin (The Swans' guy, Michael Gira, guest stars for Bowie’s low notes, against Stewart’s liquid feeling and Caralee McElroy’s perfect girly garnishes). And the expanded lineup, with Devin Hoff on bass, certainly works to flesh out Xiu Xiu’s sound with an ever-increasing lushness.

And how ultra-thoughtful of the band to stream the whole thing online so we could check it out before purchasing it! It’s the technique of all good drug dealers, and it’s hooked addicts for decades.


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