Xiu Xiu - Fabulous Muscles
Ah youth! Carefree and full of mischief! Trotting down gravel roads, setting a hoop to spin with trusty stick, beloved pals in tow. Jamie Stewart of Xiu Xiu seems to have a had a similar halcyon childhood, 'cept his was augmented by cold leather daddies who made scary use of his oft-mentioned anus and left him weeping in the rain, the cries of his cracked adolescence bouncing off dead ears to head to the unfeeling moon. OK, I don't actually know Jamie Stewart or anything, but if the overwrought melodramatic frank narrative of Xiu Xiu's output is to be believed to be 25% true, the boy did not grow up on Walton's Mountain.
Xiu Xiu the band backs up JS's histrionics (picture a more dramatic sounding Connor Obrest, if you can) with a combination of video game bleeps, sensitive acoustic guitars, an exploratory bass, with a rhythm so disjointed that it has not experienced since The Blue Nile's "A Walk Across the Rooftops." I think they fall into some post-emo nether category with fellow drama club stars Destroyer and the aforementioned Bright Eyes guy. And every fiber of my musical tastes wants to hate this corny off-Broadway-musical-grade shit, but then I harken back to when I was a distraught teen with tendencies for overreaction, and think how Xiu Xiu would've been talking about my life, man, just like I thought Bauhaus was. And, the songs, bent as they are, are pretty catchy. The opening "Crank Heart" sounds like a Merlin has gone horribly awry, and this was the last goddamn straw for our hero. Highlights for me are the scathing polar-opposite-of-Toby-Keith "Support Our Troops", bravely indicting soldiers directly for being part of a cold, violent war with the after-school special bravery of the spazz finally standing up to the jock; "I Love the Valley (Oh!)" is like Joy Division gone roller skating and the plaintive title track contains the winner lyric of the whole this thing:
Cremate me after you cum on my lips
Honey boy place my ashes in a vase
Beneath your workout bench
All of a sudden, Morrissey's wanting to plummet off the Ferris wheel seems rather well adjusted.
The whole thing reeks of piqued teen angst, but so much so that it totally works and I unabashedly love this weepy lil group, bless their tortured hearts.
Alex V. Cook listens to everything and writes about most of it. His latest book, the snappily titled Louisiana Saturday Night: Looking for a Good Time in South Louisiana's Juke Joints, Honky-Tonks, and Dance Halls is an odyssey from the backwoods bars and small-town dives to the swampside dance halls and converted clapboard barns of a Louisiana Saturday Night. Don't leave Heathrow without it. His first book Darkness Racket and Twang is available from SideCartel. The full effect can be had at alex v cook.com