Xiu Xiu has long been known as prolific, bordering on crazed, but with this new album, each song is so different from the next and so fully realized, the group's creative ferocity is simply astonishing and rapidly taking on new dimensions. No other Xiu Xiu album has ever been more approachable or communicative on a basic human level.
It's a beautiful thing when a band goes out on a limb to make its most personal and strangest work. But when that work is also greatly accessible (and we mustn't forget that the two aren't incompatible), when you'd bet even money that this is also going to make them big stars, that's cause for celebration. Jamie Stewart has been making fragile and super-intense music for years. He's gained a strong cult following based on his provocative lyrics, frayed rhythms, and beyond-emo vocalizings. There's nothing precious about Women as Lovers
, which is named after a work by the Austrian feminist author Elfriede Jelinek. Righteous and necessary political statements ("Gauntanamo Canto") edge into party songs (a brilliant cover of the Freddie Mercury/David Bowie collaboration "Under Pressure," with guest vocals from Michael Gira) in a way that gives both more weight. You might say that this is Xiu Xiu's Dub Housing
, or that it sounds like the Arcade Fire scoring a David Lynch film. Either way, it's amazing. --Mike McGonigal