Xiu Xiu frontman Jamie Stewart says he was inspired to write their 12th album, ‘OH NO’, by feelings of isolation and depression he suffered following the termination of a number of his friendships and the cancellation of the band’s tours. So it’s not surprising that a gloomy mood underpins the album. The surreal menace that permeated much of precursor ‘Girl With Basket of Fruit’ is gone, replaced by a pervasive sadness. Stewart’s vocals have rarely sounded bleaker, recalling those on latter-day Bowie and Greg Puciato’s recent solo work. He collaborated with a number of musicians on the album who he says somewhat restored his faith in humanity, meaning it is a succession of duets, all with interestingly chosen collaborators. His vocals interweave with Chelsea Wolfe’s well on ‘One Hundred Years’ and Sharon van Etten’s voice on opener ‘Sad Mezcalita’ has a very beguiling, torchsong quality to it. After all the preceding melancholy, the closing triptych of ‘Knock Out’, lead single ‘A Bottle of Rum’, and Valerie Diaz monologue ‘ANTS’ makes for a comparatively optimistic conclusion to the album. Xiu Xiu have recorded a 12th album that is an interesting listen, but rarely an easy one. It’s unlikely to win them any new followers, but existing fans won’t be disappointed.
As featured in the March 2021 issue of DIY, out now. Scroll down to get your copy.
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