Xiu Xiu

Girl with Basket of Fruit

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With Forget, Xiu Xiu delivered another fine example of their music at its most accessible; on Girl with Basket of Fruit, they return to their most challenging side, and prove once again that it's just as integral to their art as their dark synth pop. As on Angel Guts: Red Classroom, Jamie Stewart and company find new ways to describe and confront the horrors of the world. Even on Xiu Xiu's terms, the title track is a startling beginning to Girl with Basket of Fruit. Stewart's voice springs out of the abrasive din, shouting lyrics that shift from nightmarish to cartoonish and back again ("Her boob gets so floppy she uses it as a fan to wave away his sickening B.O.") in a way that only this band can pull off. As frenzied as Xiu Xiu gets on Girl with Basket of Fruit, the album isn't pure chaos. The band emphasizes rhythm in a way they haven't done in some time, whether it's the flexible backbone of longtime collaborator Devin Hoff's double bass on "Ice Cream Truck" or the visceral beats that Haitian and Yoruba drummers bring to "Scisssssssors," the album's most immediate track. Here and on the trance-inducing collage "Pumpkin Attack on Mommy and Daddy," Xiu Xiu borrow from dance, classical, industrial, and music from around the world in unexpected yet organic ways. Less surprising, but just as powerful, are the album's painfully vulnerable moments. Xiu Xiu's empathy rings out as strongly as ever on "The Wrong Thing" and "Normal Love," which provide aching respites to Girl with Basket of Fruit's outbursts. "Mary Turner, Mary Turner," a harrowing account of the 1918 lynching of a pregnant African American woman, serves as a reminder that Xiu Xiu's knowledge of atrocities isn't limited to current events. Affecting, cathartic, and unsettling, Girl with Basket of Fruit reflects that while the edge to Xiu Xiu's music has changed with time, it never dulls.

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