Xiu Xiu’s most accessible and mysterious Album Yet

The brand new album OH NO from San Jose, CA natives Xiu Xiu, comes out March 26th with duets from multiple artists (featuring: Liars, Sharon Von Etten & others)

Araminta Siegling, Culture Editor

Xiu Xiu’s sad horror movie of an album brings chilling ballads and continues the tradition of great music on the Polyvinyl record label. The abundance of features in this new album along with their new take on a song by post-punk staple The Cure make this album one of the best that has been released so far this year. This combined with Xiu Xiu’s avant-garde and jarring songwriting style brings new layers of diversity to the record. (Something about a “sad horror movie” of an album brings chilling ballads 

Some of the artists featured in this album include folk artists such as Sharon Van Etten and experimental rock bands like Liars. The result of this mixture is dark, daring, and diverse. Because of this, it is inconsistent with Xiu Xiu’s previous works. 

The album starts with a bang in the song Sad Mezcalita. It is comparable to a horror movie’s soundtrack. Juxtaposed with frontman Jamie Stweart’s hushed vocals and cryptic/obtuse instrumental backing. Listeners would expect there to be a big climax of synths and violent instrumentation, but what is more chilling is that the song doesn’t give it to you. 

The next song is called “I cannot resist”, and is one of Xiu Xiu’s darkest and most chilling songs out of all of their projects. What starts off as a soft piano ballad breaks with brash drums in short bursts throughout the song, keeps listeners on the edge of their seat for the entire length of the song. Stewart’s off-kilter lyrics are a blend of dry wit and dark realities, with examples like 

“And here is to hoping the booze gives you a wild sleep, and that you mysteriousness-ess remain more hot than sad.”

The 9th track on the record stands apart from the others, which is an industrial take on the post-punk/new wave band “The Cure’s” song “one hundred years” with artist Chelsea Wolfe. This new take on the song brings a sense of dread and grief that does lyrics from the song better justice than Robert Smith’s original. It is a song that makes your skin crawl, with Xiu Xiu’s staple calculated drums, abrasive synths, put this on the top of your list for Xiu Xiu songs to listen to. It encapsulates everything that makes Xiu Xiu so brilliant. 

The most accessible and best song on the album is called “A bottle of rum” with Liz Harris, who releases music as Grouper. It sticks out like a sore thumb with its cheery facade. It lacks the quirks of Xiu Xiu’s more inaccessible work and makes it something that you could actually listen to in a car without giving you a panic attack or making you extremely paranoid. I recognize this song as being similar to indie rock artist SASAMI’s self-titled album. The music video also reminds me of SASAMI’s aesthetic choices mixed with the style choice of David Lynch, which was a very pleasant surprise. I love SASAMI’s work, and as someone who has been to two of her shows, the similarity between “A Bottle Of Rum” and SASAMI songs like “Jealousy” and “Not the Time” is very welcomed and made the song one of my favorites on the album. Compared to the rest of the album, it does ruin the experience of listening to it all the way through from start to finish. The album goes from dark and foreboding and a perfect storm of mysterious melancholy, to vibrant and calming. While the songs are excellently written, they can also go to boring and annoying in just a matter of three songs. 

The highs of this album include some of Xiu Xiu’s best work since 2005’s La Foret, the last in the string of peak Xiu Xiu songwriting. The lows are something you would expect from a one-off song that was put on BandCamp just for the fun of it.