Xiu Xiu's Women as Lovers Reviewed

The following review of Xiu Xiu's (MySpace) Women as Lovers was written by BBBD contributing writer, Bryan Hood. Fingers crossed he'll become more of a regular at this Internet daily concern, but until then, just enjoy his expert writing.

Although an avid fan of Jaime Stewart’s band Xiu Xiu, I can’t say that I have been looking forward to their latest album, Women as Lovers. Since 2004’s accessible Fabulous Muscles, I had found myself disappointed by each successive follow up. Neither of the two albums released since then had been able to capture the energy and spirit of Xiu Xiu’s fantastic live shows. That said I was more than willing to give Women as Lovers a chance, and what I found is that Xiu Xiu has managed to finally make the album I’ve been wanting to listen to the for past four years.

Xiu Xiu’s music can best be described as a blend of shattering of glass, wind chimes and a few desperate pleas yelped above the chaos. This description may not sound that appealing, but somehow Stewart and co. manage to pull it all together and create music that’s earnest, beautiful, and occasionally poppy. This is something that can be heard at each and every live show, but rarely on their studio albums. Women as Lovers changes this though as Xiu Xiu’s full sonic range is finally on display. The music is no longer a shambling mess of high-pitched screaming and clanging. Well that’s not exactly true, there’s still plenty of that but now there’s so much more. Along with all the high treble sounds, there’s actual bass and—get this—drums! That’s right Xiu Xiu has finally added texture to their sound, and it’s definitely welcomed. Really enough can’t be made of drummer Ches Smith’s addition to the band. It’s hard to imagine Xiu Xiu having produced anything like the magnificent “I Do What I Want When I Want” and the exuberant “No Friend Oh!” prior to Women as Lovers. On top of this the album features more than just Stewart’s pained warble as Caralee McElroy once again joins on in the singing and Michael Gira’s voice is a welcome addition to the wonderous “Under Pressure” cover. The album’s not perfect by any means though (I understand the sentiments behind “Guantanamo Canto” but that doesn’t mean I think the song is any good) but it’s a remarkable album that gets better with each listen.

Women as Lovers is a great step in Xiu Xiu’s musical evolution. The band manages to add new layers to their music while still maintaining their distinctive sound, something that is especially important of a band as unique as Xiu Xiu. The album is one that both longtime fans can enjoy and one that for the first time since Fabulous Muscles might actually win over some new converts.

Xiu Xiu - No Friend Oh!

Xiu Xiu - I Do What I Want When I Want