Xiu Xiu – Women As Lovers (Kill Rock Stars)

The cult indie heroes confront their fears with a smile

To the uninitiated, Xiu Xiu’s sixth album Women As Lovers may appear confrontational. There’s its loaded title, cover images of women bound, hostage-style, and song names like I Do What I Want, When I Want and You Are Pregnant, You Are Dead. But it’s not what you think, I can explain…

Xiu Xiu’s Jamie Stewart is a sensitive guy but he’s fascinated by the darker side of life. His music is a representation of this; soft, sweet music that claws and bites. For example, the delightfully wonky cover of Queen’s Under Pressure, otherwise faithful to the original, is regularly torn apart by saxophones that sound like they’re trying to charm snakes that have already begun to attack.

Stewart’s lyrics, delivered in his distinctive voice – part Noel Coward, part Mavis Cruet – circle around his subjects with a mixture of humour and horror. It’s here that the confrontation lies. But he’s not confronting the listener; he’s confronting the darkness, drawing it closer and trying to understand it.

As he clatters forward, he wants us to come, too. So that no one gets lost, he and his current band of helpers make unmistakable sounds at all times. Every song on Women As Lovers is different from the last. At their heart there is always a simple tune but they are set upon by a huge variety of instruments, all eager to make their own mark.

Women As Lovers is a fine addition to the Xiu Xiu back catalogue, filled with great songs and joyful creativity. Death and destruction sit close but allow the music to unfold into the light. (4/5)

This review originally appeared on Subba Cultcha

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