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Xiu Xiu: Angel Guts: Red Classroom

Xiu Xiu - Angel Guts: Red Classroom

Jamie Stewart has never been one to make things easy for other people, or for himself. For over a decade now the Xiu Xiu front-man has been dropping offerings of lyrical gore and sonic brutality at his hardcore fan-base’s doorstep like a cat bringing home dismembered rats, making a play for their hearts with actions more likely to turn their stomachs. After a string of nominally “pop”-influenced albums (albeit ones that wrapped that notion up in so much barbed wire and broken glass), latest long-player Angel Guts: Red Classroom abandons the pretext of accessibility altogether, a move which actually works in its favour. Whereas in the past the juxtaposition of Stewart’s confrontational lyrics against playful synth-pop melodies often made the singer seem like he was trying too hard to shock, here – alongside the hissing, clanking horror flick atmospherics and ear-splitting electronic squall that account for half the record’s musical backing – his half-whispered, half-yelped outpourings (loosely themed around the ‘70s Japanese porno with which the album shares a title) barely raise an eyebrow; meanwhile, anything too closely resembling a beat or a hook that the listener could grab hold of – primitive industrial techno banger “Black Dick”, say, or the droning Suicide synths of “Stupid In The Dark (below) – is soon dragged to the floor and stomped on until it lies twitching and choking on the digital detritus of scream-fests like “Lawrence Liquors” and “El Naco.” Easy listening this is most definitely not, but that’s the point, and it’s one that Stewart makes very well.

Angel Guts: Red Classroom is out February 4 via Polyvinyl; stream it in full now via Pitchfork Advance.

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About foamhands

My name is Michael Dix; I'm a decade or so past being down with the kids, but to me new music never gets old. Apparently I like music that sounds like faulty kitchen appliances and ritual slaughter; really I just like what I like, whether that happens to be indie, pop, punk, hip hop, metal, electronica, Afrobeat or jazz. Follow me on Twitter @FoamHandsBlog to receive notifications of new posts and the occasional random brain-fart, and please share links wherever you can. Enjoy!

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