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Music Review

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Oh No


Artist: Xiu Xiu
Label: Polyvinyl Records Co
RRP: £13.99
Release Date: 26 March 2021

For nearly two decades, Xiu Xiu has made music for the moments when life’s harsh realities meet its existential mysteries. A profound sense of emotional vulnerability weaves its way throughout the dozen albums the group has made, but also a spirit of openness and experimentalism as they peer into the sonic unknown, creating moments of catharsis by harnessing bursts of noise and other uncommon sounds. Their latest release, Oh No, is released via Polyvinyl Record Co...

Oh No is an album of duets, with singer and songwriter Jamie Stewart sharing the spotlight with an array of guests who have made an impact on him personally and musically. Sharon Van Etten’s tentative musings open the album, and from there vocalists from across the musical spectrum, including Circuit des Yeux’s Haley Fohr, Liz Harris, Alice Bag, Chelsea Wolfe, Owen Pallet, and Twin Shadow’s George Lewis Jr., all drift into Xiu Xiu’s distinctive soundworld.

This is yet another album where I enjoyed less than half of the songs, whilst the remaining tracks did nothing for me. Some I totally loved, others left me rolling my eyes.

'One Hundred Years' was easily one of the release's high points. It's a sort of retro '80s electro synth based punk track.

Have you ever been to a party and at some strange hour a couple, encouraged by others, crack out a guitar and start singing - eyes shut. They're not bad, but they're far from good... and the entire experience is a total cringefest? That's how I felt listing to 'The Grifters'.

The rest of the album fell somewhere between these two tracks. I totally get the idea behind this release, of having different guest singers that meant something personal to Stewart. And maybe that's the problem. It's personal to one man... and the rest of us are unlikely to be on exactly the same page.


Nick Smithson

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