Xiu Xiu is an American experimental band, which takes its genre to the next level with each record. Groups creator, multi-instrumentalist and producer Jamie Stewart blends house, hi-NRG and techno to produce a new avant-garde type of art pop. Girl with Basket of Fruit - a new album from the band, is definitely not an easy listen. It was set as a cathartic release of creators’ tension, sorrow and anger.
The album kicks off with a punch of a title song. ‘Girl with Basket of Fruit’ is chaotic on all fronts - both instrumentally and vocally. All tied together by a strong, steady rhythm, which creates a haunting, ritualistic-sounding composition. It’s extremely impressive that experimental song like this can be so catchy. Surprising and clever lyrics form a hybrid of some absurd poetry and spoken word. This style sets the tone for the whole album.
I absolutely loved this album
Stewart’s vibrato whispered vocals in ‘It Comes Out as a Joke’ and ‘Scisssssssors’ seem other-worldly. He proves that is it possible to make extremely experimental music still sound good. I would describe the instrumental in ‘Amargi ve Moo’ as a soundtrack to a horror film. The use of cello reminded me of ‘Hereditary’ music and vocals of Perfume Genius. Similarly, ‘The Wrong Thing’ reminded me of Blade Runner and it’s probably my favourite as it sits somewhere in the middle of the band’s extreme spectrum. Despite there is no definite melody in none of those, the end result is quite beautiful. Other tracks like ‘Ice Cream Truck’ aim to torture the listener, but in a weirdly pleasant way.
On Girl with Basket of Fruit Xiu Xiu delivers what might be the most adventurous and diverse alternative album to date. It has been criticised for a lack of direction, however, my interpretation is that the band uses percussion as an outlet for pain and anxiety. It seems to be the focal point of the album, as it comes through in every song. This album might have been a challenge to exhaust the band’s rhythmic capabilities.
I am not familiar with Xiu Xiu's discography, therefore most of the references probably went over my head. Despite that, I absolutely loved this album. I found that Stewart’s extremely dark take on sadness is much easier to relate to and frankly more beautiful as most ballads.