Xiu Xiu's Knife Play is a very eclectic mix of neurotic indie falterings similar to the Paper Chase school of rock, but with lighter techno beats and softly morose ballads of indifference. The opening tracks are hard to follow along with, and after a time the album seems to break into techno tunes and finally closes with some calm, modern classical arrangements. The vocals range from incredibly bitter screams to strong, '80s British-sounding tones. Xiu Xiu has dissected their album in many regards and it makes for less coherency as well as a slightly jumbled feel. Guest appearances from members of Deerhoof, Duster, and Mr. Bungle can't seem to save this album from leaving the listener feeling frustrated and annoyed, partially because there's no fluid motion with the album as a whole, but also because there is so much tension and passion that Xiu Xiu is capable of, yet is not displayed properly. One can get the feeling of their skills on a tune like "Poe Poe," but the tracks leading up to and after just add to the general awkwardness of Knife Play.
AllMusic Review by Kurt Morris