I've had a love-hate thing going with Xiu Xiu for a while now. When they actually play music, it's pretty cool, and I like a lot of their out-on-a-limb noisy experiments. The one thing I hate is Jamie Stewart's complete egomania. The guy basically thinks he can go up on stage and take a dump and people will worship him for it, and, to be honest, he's more or less right. This album is proof.
I saw these guys last night, performing most of this album, and it was an unmitigated disaster. Stewart's so full of himself that he insists on his gang of unfortunately misguided followers to listen to all of the boring dreck he churns out, thinking that adding a noise freakout or some wacky instrumentation can cover the fact that his songwriting talents are extremely uneven. Everyone left the show with a bitter taste in their mouth as Stewart and co. didn't speak a word on stage, spent forty-five minutes setting up without so much as a "Hello Chicago," refused to play favorites or an encore, and forced us to listen to some weird old guy reciting awful poetry. Even as most people filed out uncomfortably at the end (interestingly, swarming around the openers instead), there were still a few indie kids drunk on Xiu Xiu Kool-Aid, insisting that they just witnessed "art."
The problem with this album is that it's marketed exclusively to people who already think Xiu Xiu is brilliant and makes no attempt at outreach to anyone who doesn't already hold them in cultlike reverence. It's more of the same here: empty, repetitive nonsense, blending together over fourteen tracks so repellent and forgettable that they demand you to never listen to them again. I'm giving it two stars because, as always, there are a few good moments, and I can see how someone would like it. If this is your first experience with Xiu Xiu, or you're giving them a second try after not being completely bowled over: avoid like the plague. If you're a rabid fan: well, you already stopped reading and clicked "Not Helpful," didn't you?