Xiu Xiu dazzles yet again with Girl with Basket of Fruit

Marvin Villanueva, Senior

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After providing their most lively and accessible work to date with 2017’s Forget, experimental noise pop band, Xiu Xiu, paves new grounds this year with their last record’s complete antithesis, Girl with Basket of Fruit.

Hailing from San Jose, California, frontrunner Jamie Stewart, along with Angela Seo, have mastered their own unique blend of avant-garde art rock and experimental post-punk. Their  calculated use of instrumentation and precisioned detail towards production have been used only to create sheer bone-chattering noise.

This depth of musicality is proven with any given look towards the band’s discography. From their rambunctious, clinking debut Knife Play (2002) to the absurd, but delightfully lush cover album of Angelo Badalamenti’s scores, Xiu Xiu Plays the Music of Twin Peaks (2016), the band has not only covered every possible path but have always provided music that, to the average listener, would completely turn their heads.

Girl with Basket of Fruit holds this same exact effect, it is complete and utter mayhem.

Starting from the get-go with the album’s title track, the song feels like a distorted, manic dream, through its piercing overlapping synths and horror-like atmosphere; it sets the tone for what’s to come.

Surprisingly, before any of this, Stewart, in a collaborative editorial for Talkhouse, gave both appeasing fans and unfamiliar, obviously puzzled, newcomers, what he has never done before and gave a song-by-song guideline for every single thing on this release. Here, he described their music saying: “Generally, Xiu Xiu songs are narratives about the internal effects of external events. For this record… the lyrics were taken largely from the internal effects of internal events.”

This effect is shown on collected “Amargi ve Moo,” where under a lone string section, Stewart’s soft and tender vocals express not only his deep-rooted pain but an undeniable romantic beauty that comes off as downright endearing.

Although, songs like “Pumpkin Attack on Mommy and Daddy,” take Stewart’s explanation in a darker form. Showcasing a structured mania of uproars, through it jeering synth loops that mend elegantly with its dominant, defiant drums, the band leaves the listener wanting more.

Ultimately, Girl with Basket of Fruit is a submissive, momentum-building, masterwork of searing intensity that begs for attention. Xiu Xiu has demonstrated their ease of shifting the direction of sound with a flick of the wrist and also the comfortability of seamlessly creating a definitive, original sound. It is an anarchist’s fantasy.

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