(5 Rue Christine Records)
Ah youth! Carefree and full of mischief! Trotting down gravel roads, setting a hoop to spin with trusty stick, beloved pals in tow. Jamie Stewart of Xiu Xiu seems to have a had a similar halcyon childhood, 'cept his was augmented by cold leather daddies who made scary use of his oft-mentioned anus and left him weeping in the rain, the cries of his cracked adolescence bouncing off dead ears to head to the unfeeling moon. OK, I don't actually know Jamie Stewart or anything, but if the overwrought melodramatic frank narrative of Xiu Xiu's output is to be believed to be 25% true, the boy did not grow up on Walton's Mountain.
Xiu Xiu the band backs up JS's histrionics (picture a more dramatic sounding Connor Obrest, if you can) with a combination of video game bleeps, sensitive acoustic guitars, an exploratory bass, with a rhythm so disjointed that it has not experienced since The Blue Nile's "A Walk Across the Rooftops." I think they fall into some post-emo nether category with fellow drama club stars Destroyer and the aforementioned Bright Eyes guy. And every fiber of my musical tastes wants to hate this corny off-Broadway-musical-grade shit, but then I harken back to when I was a distraught teen with tendencies for overreaction, and think how Xiu Xiu would've been talking about my life, man, just like I thought Bauhaus was. And, the songs, bent as they are, are pretty catchy. The opening "Crank Heart" sounds like a Merlin has gone horribly awry, and this was the last goddamn straw for our hero. Highlights for me are the scathing polar-opposite-of-Toby-Keith "Support Our Troops", bravely indicting soldiers directly for being part of a cold, violent war with the after-school special bravery of the spazz finally standing up to the jock; "I Love the Valley (Oh!)" is like Joy Division gone roller skating and the plaintive title track contains the winner lyric of the whole this thing:
Cremate me after you cum on my lips
Honey boy place my ashes in a vase
Beneath your workout bench
All of a sudden, Morrissey's wanting to plummet off the Ferris wheel seems rather well adjusted.
The whole thing reeks of piqued teen angst, but so much so that it totally works and I unabashedly love this weepy lil group, bless their tortured hearts.