Pin It
Favorite

CD Review 

by Mike Corrigan


A profound feeling of helplessness pervades Fabulous Muscles (on the 5 Rue Christine label), the latest offering from Oakland/Seattle crew Xiu Xiu. Subjects explored on its 10 cuts include desire, dominance, abuse and unrequited love. It confronts us with the disquieting reality that none of us are truly in control of our emotions or the sexual politics we encounter every day, despite the lies we might tell ourselves to the contrary. While previous Xiu Xiu albums have dealt with similar themes, the results up to this point have been more danceable than brooding and introspective. This one is a wholly different beast, one starkly beautiful in its structural minimalism and trembling emotionalism.


"Crank Heart" introduces the album's experimental electronic soul in a way that is, at first, playful. But a few measures in, the mood shifts abruptly to barely contained hysteria as singer Jamie Stewart's distorted vocals cut through a lurching, driving background din with lyrics anxiously suggesting systematic humiliation and personal violence. The gorgeous and hypnotic "Little Panda McElroy (b)" provides a sonic opiate -- and offers a much-appreciated glimmer of hope ("I can stop stealing money / I can stop hating my own heart / I can do it because of you") before the album veers into "Support Our Troops OH! (Black Angels OH!)," a harrowing and provocative anti-war spoken-word piece set to a creepy atmospheric electronic wash reminiscent in tone and execution to Suicide's infamously apocalyptic "Frankie Teardrop."


There's nothing remotely subtle about the seething hate on display here: "You shot your grenade launcher into windows and into the doors of people's houses / Why should I care if you get killed?" Things get even darker with the title track's candid and desperate homoerotic death trip revelations ("Cremate me after you c-- on my lips, honey boy / Place my ashes in a vase beneath your workout bench"), which are effectively rendered with nothing more than a pleading vocal and a plaintive acoustic guitar strum. "Clowne Towne" raises self-loathing to majestic heights with violin, viola -- and insightful humor ("Your true self has become weak and alone and annoying / And a true ridiculous dumb ass").


This is not an easy listen, to be sure, not something you'd throw on while entertaining the parents. But when you're alone and in the mood for an emotional free-fall, Fabulous Muscles is not too far from fab.





Publication date: 03/17/04
  • Pin It

Latest in Comment

  • Beware, Be Ready
  • Beware, Be Ready

    Simple, sensible precautions can make all the difference when "the big one" hits
    • Jul 22, 2015
  • The Trumpenstein Monster
  • The Trumpenstein Monster

    Publisher's Note
    • Jul 22, 2015
  • Who Do You Trust?
  • Who Do You Trust?

    Republicans are howling about the Iran nuclear treaty, but after a century of bad advice, should we even listen?
    • Jul 22, 2015
  • More »

Comments

Subscribe to this thread:

Add a comment

Today | Tue | Wed | Thu | Fri | Sat | Sun
Moscow ArtWalk 2015

Moscow ArtWalk 2015 @ Downtown Moscow

Tuesdays, Thursdays, Sundays. Continues through Aug. 31

All of today's events | Staff Picks

More by Mike Corrigan

  • Lights, Camera, Skate
  • Lights, Camera, Skate

    Two local artists have transformed their love of skateboarding into a new variety show on Community Television.
    • Dec 14, 2011
  • Time Travelers
  • Time Travelers

    For some local store owners, finding intriguing merchandise isn’t just business, it’s an obsession.
    • Nov 22, 2011
  • For Your Consideration
  • For Your Consideration

    A raucous good time from Thee Oh Sees. Plus, vintage horror and a Berlin filmmaker to check out.
    • Nov 22, 2011
  • More »

Most Commented On

  • Patrolling While Black

    Gordon Grant's nearly 30 years as a Spokane cop have been affected by race, but that's not the whole story
    • Jul 8, 2015
  • Rushing's Rant

    The Airway Heights City Council has asked the mayor to resign after posting a racist Facebook message
    • Jul 15, 2015
  • More »

© 2015 Inlander
Website powered by Foundation