Imagine you tie someone up on a bed and watch them struggle and whimper. Imagine you take Polaroid pictures of that person and masturbate to them until your nose bleeds. Then imagine you walk into the bathroom, stand before the mirror, and happily watch blood drip onto the white sink. Now imagine that person you tied up was your sister. Is this disturbing you yet? Are you uncomfortable or at least totally confused?
You'll feel a similar discomfort when you listen to Women as Lovers by Bay Area band Xiu Xiu. Frontman Jamie Stewart takes you on a journey to the center of a very disturbed mind as he wails and whispers over distorted guitars, wild synthesizers, choppy drums, and more noise than you could ever ask for. For the full unsettling experience, listen to the lyrics. On "Black keyboard" he sings, Hold me mommy face down in your filth/why would you tell/how many times that my father made you cream?
While Xiu Xiu's bizarre undertaking is ambitious, and it's clear that they're passionate about art, the music itself doesn't quite live up. The band mashes a cacophony of clangs and bangs and whimpers, and they even do it with a decent sense of ironic humor. But it raises the questions: Is it possible to be noisy and accessible? To experiment without being self-indulgent? To disturb and comfort your audience at the same time? Yes. Radiohead did it. Nirvana did it. Deerhoof did it. Many others in history have done it. Unfortunately, Xiu Xiu has not yet done it. (Kill Rock Stars)
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