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Boomkat Product Review:
Xiu Xiu are one of those acts it’s almost impossible to pigeonhole, just as you decide you can label them as one thing, the next track takes their sound into another place altogether. I suppose it makes sense then that they’ve ended up as part of the Kill Rock Stars/5 Rue Christine family, and this latest record sees the band (fronted by Jamie Stewart) joined by Deerhoof’s Greg Saunier on production duties (which makes perfect sense really when you think about it…). His multi-instrumental eclecticism paired with Xiu Xiu’s uncompromising odd-pop styles creates the sort of noise it’s simply impossible to ignore – you either love it or hate it, as they say. There are distinct similarities between Xiu Xiu and fellow American surrealists The Fiery Furnaces, both bands seem quite willing to ignore the callings of mainstream indie music and continue to make peculiar fractured songs, showing signs of pop success while never wholeheartedly embracing it, a concept never more evident than on ‘The Air Force’. For a start the album is markedly less ‘instant’ than it’s critically acclaimed predecessor ‘La Foret’, which seemed to take the Pitchfork-reading world by storm on its release. ‘The Air Force’ instead harks back to their earlier album ‘Fabulous Muscles’ with it’s lo-fi electroid style with flashes of the absurd, but injects this sound with an added bite and a little bit more risk. The lyrical content for a start is somewhat inspired, with guttural hymns dealing with sex, suicide and feminism just for starters – as you can probably tell it’s not exactly an easy ride. Xiu Xiu aren’t a band everyone will find it easy to get into, but then they were never supposed to be and the world needs it’s outsiders – without Xiu Xiu, the indie scene would be frankly a lot duller. Spannered, and all the better for it.