Get ready people. This coming Feb, the world will be graced with a new Xiu Xiu album! Angel Guts: Red Classroom will be released 2/4/14 and is available for pre-order now RIGHT HERE. The album will be available on CD, LP (180-gram clear red vinyl / limited to 500), cassette (red tint tape) and MP3.
The brand new single, "Stupid in the Dark," debuted on Pitchfork this morning. Check that out RIGHT HERE, or stream the song above.
Angel Guts: Red Classroom is the beginning of Xiu Xiu's descent from grayness into the deepest blackness endurable. It is the sound of Xiu Xiu's death.
This is a bold proposition, even for a band that has never so much pushed the envelope as pulled it (forcefully) away from the line other musicians are willing to toe. And now, in what is unquestionably their darkest hour, Xiu Xiu have lit the envelope on fire and are using it as a torch to light the path ahead.
Having spent the previous four years living in North Carolina, primary songwriter Jamie Stewart relocated to Los Angeles, moving blindly into a neighborhood whose notoriously dangerous reputation was unknown to him.
A park divided among four gangs, a lake routinely dragged for bodies, a building wherein two infant skeletons were recently uncovered -- the aura of his new home bleeds into every pore of the album, each lyric and note bearing traces of its essence: the terrible beauty, the despair, the violence, the ultra humanity, the uncertainty. "I know to a degree I must have romanticized it," Stewart admits, "But when it's not safe to go out at night, what else can one?"
Romanticized is hardly the word anyone other than Stewart would use. Like its namesake, a Japanese erotic noir film, Angel Guts: Red Classroom is as radical as it is inventive. The subject matter -- racialized sex, double suicide, double penetration, criminality, fear of physical harm -- is unsuitable for the faint of heart. But when the heart has stopped beating, only the soul remains to carry on. And here, Stewart transcribes his without boundaries.
"Your face is down alone / On your desk / At the end of the city / You were squashed into / There is no one you love." So begins the album's first verse.
In the wrong hands, such topics could be rendered as far-fetched fantasies. But Stewart's evocative vocals lend his provocative lyrics the balance they need, grounding them in a stark realism that forces us to acknowledge their existence, even confront them (as discomforting as that is).
Unsettling, too, is the music. Working with only analog synths, drum set, and 1970's analog drum machines, Xiu Xiu has never before sounded so focused, so captivating, so intent on delivering a kick to the throat.
Though influences can be cited (Suicide, Kraftwerk, Nico, Einstürzende Neubauten), they are ultimately far less relevant than the mark this album will leave on other musicians and music fans from this point forward.
Take "Stupid in the Dark" -- its tone ominous and pulsing, its harmonies simple and direct, its grip unrelenting. Or "Botanica de Los Angeles," a sparse, yet undeniably anthemic merging of bruising drums and bone-rattling bass synths.
Unbearably dark, yet incredibly illuminating, with Angel Guts: Red ClassroomXiu Xiu continues to forge (and at times risk) its reputation as avant-garde pioneers. It is the work of a band unraveling to its core and exposing the boldness within.
Xiu Xiu may be dead, but its will is more alive than ever.Hide More
QRO Magazine wrote up a great review for Xiu Xiu's Portland show, even comparing Stewart's on-stage writhing with Morrissey. Follow the link below to read on. Also be sure to check out the live video above to see Jamie Stewart and Angela Seo performing "Hi".
Xiu Xiu's newest song "Beauty Towne" from their forthcoming album, Always, has gotten some online love these past few days. The video, animated by Jean T Kim, made its debut on NME and can be watched above. The track was also posted on Pitchfork, and can be streamed below. Always comes out March 6th, and is available for pre-order RIGHT HERE.