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Not That There's Anything Wrong with Loving Xiu Xiu

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by Alex V. Cook, Music Editor for outsideleft.com
originally published: January, 2005
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.

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.

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Alex V. Cook
Music Editor

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

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