By Tanner Bidish, Staff Writer
Key Tracks: “Wondering”, “Petite”, “Faith, Torn Apart”
The experimental rock discography of Xiu Xiu has accumulated into quite a catalog. From goth-pop works like Dear God I Hate Myself and Always, to cover albums like Nina and last year’s Plays the Music of Twin Peaks, the group has produced a wide variety of music with a corresponding variety of reception. While there’s polarity amongst fans over which is the greatest Xiu Xiu album, FORGET will not disappoint any listeners.
Experimental from the get-go, the opening track, “The Call”, strikes you with a tongue and cheek rap verse. It’s in and out, with unrelenting synths to boot. For a moment, you’ll wonder if you’re even listening to the right album, then the familiar, iconic timbre of Jamie Stewart enters the track. His warbling vocals slip out the chorus, “Just for once, come to me / When looking for what means the most”. His characteristic voice is the most unifying element of Xiu Xiu’s sound, and on FORGET, Stewart keeps his steady and dramatic yet refined balance of quirk and intensity. “Everyone loves you, the pain has just begun / Everyone hates you, the pain has just begun” he croons on “Queen of the Losers”. The vocals meld perfectly with the anxiety-ridden track; the crash of the synths, the clang of the electric percussion.
The variety on FORGET is one of its most appealing attributes. “Hay Choco Bananas” is calm and distorted. “Jenny GoGo” is a repetitive narrative of ceaseless self-doubt. Stewart’s performance in “Get Up” is rife with emotional turmoil. Quivering whispers hum through a tale of a dependent relationship. Amongst the anxious and depressive tones are breaks of light. The album’s single, “Wondering”, is bright and bouncing. The instrumentation is harmonic, and the chorus invites a dancey spirit.
The title track is perhaps the climax of chaos on the album. Repeated shouts of “Forget! Forget!”, a call to shed yourself as a way to allow yourself to feel legitimately good. Juxtaposing “Forget” is the quiet and acoustic “Petite”. It’s a lulling tune that makes an attempt to put the listener at ease after the uproar. Stewart sounds great against the track’s acoustic guitar. The monologue on “Faith, Torn Apart” is likewise stunning. Delivered by drag queen/punk icon Vaginal Davis, the closing motion of the FORGET is blunt and honest, and – because of that – evokes empathy.
Tonally depressed yet sonically vibrant, FORGET is without dull moments. Stewart and the gang truly pull it together on Xiu Xiu’s latest and deliver the project’s most accessible work to date.