Since the turn of the millennium, few bands have matched the versatility and inconsistency of Xiu Xiu. On their newest record, Xiu Xiu brings much of the same to the table, hitting home runs on several tracks but struggling to achieve a balance between originality and perfection.
Led by Jamie Stewart, Xiu Xiu spends most of its energy exploring unsettling topics, including everything from suicide to the Iraq War. On top of this, the band’s vibe is unable to be matched; they create some of the most impressive compositions of engaging yet varied instrumentation of any group in music today. With their latest endeavor, FORGET, Xiu Xiu finds themselves once again diving deep into dark territory but struggling to find the clarity and smoothness of their last album.
If FORGET serves one purpose, it’s to remind the listener that Jamie Stewart is an untouchable force of pure creativity. He’s someone who’s willing to take dead-end risks and try to make them into something that leaves an impact, and FORGET is no different. The record kicks off with “The Call,” a spastic mess of a track that tells the story of a prostitute. “The Call” has the potential to be humorous with its straightforward and vulgar delivery, but when Stewart sings in falsetto with the utmost seriousness, this track becomes even more hilarious because of the juxtaposition of styles.
Subsequent tracks continue this escalation, peaking on the third and fourth tracks with “Wondering” and “Get Up.” The two songs complement each other perfectly. “Wondering” builds itself up on a synth-pop vibe and peaks with every moment, until it drops off at the track’s conclusion. “Get Up” burns in the back of Stewart’s throat and sweeps up the remains of “Wondering” with piano and strings that convey his fluttering emotions.
But midway through the album, FORGET begins to feel like the product of a failed art student trying to find their way. “At Last, At Last” is comparatively boring after the first few songs. “Petite” also seems to serve as nothing but filler on an already short project.
Besides the two aforementioned songs, individual tracks on FORGET hit their mark in an impressive fashion. But taken as a whole, FORGET is a poor amalgamation of incoherent thoughts rather than a
FORGET is a good listen, but considering what Xiu Xiu produced before this project, it pales in comparison. It took Xiu Xiu 14 years of experimentation to finally make Plays the Music of Twin Peaks, a record that managed to surprise throughout and keep the energy up rather than just intrigue in moments, but it was a cover album. That LP convinced listeners the group has the potential to find perfection with original compositions, but instead they’ve reverted to making albums that need to be pulled apart and dissected rather than admired.
Innately, this isn’t horrible — FORGET still has its merits within individual tracks, making it a must-listen for fans of Xiu Xiu and experimental fans alike. But Xiu Xiu’s time in the spotlight is fleeting, and if they don’t turn out an original album that sticks soon, they may be forgotten.
- Genre: Art rock
- Rating: 7/10