Jamie Stewart is prolific and uncompromising – both are admirable and dangerous qualities. And at some point the game has to be up, at least momentarily. And here, with a creepy set of Nina Simone covers/vandalism Stewart – as Xiu Xiu – finally serves up a varnished turd. Perhaps the most disappointed I’ve been by an album all year, given last year’s Always was, to my ears, a masterpiece; a career high for Xiu Xiu.
But quite what the fuck this is meant to be is a bit beyond my grasp. Nina Simone was a challenging artist. Stewart is a challenging artist. But beyond that – and, I guess, using music as both an exploration of their depression and reaching to it as salvation/safety net – I can’t really hear the connection. This all just seems like a strange, ugly, creepy, ghastly lark.
The sad circus clown, drunk and destitute gives it one last shot at impersonating Bryan Ferry approximating Nina. Anthony Hegarty finally has a stroke attempting to goth-crawl through The Rocky Horror songs as if written by Simone.
I don’t know – I realise those lines above might just sell this to (other) Xiu Xiu fans.
I’ll wait for 2014’s return to Stewart’s songs. The bonus of him being prolific I guess.