Xiu Xiu’s new album comes at a strange time, which is to say nothing at all since all time is strange. In fact, every moment is absurd. That’s life and that’s Fabulous Muscles. It’s absurd, like the theater. There are three-way dichotomies and two-way trichotomies enmeshed in intense emotion and complex suffering, making for one big indulgent, possibly self-defeating mind-fuck.
Unlike their previous albums, a lot of it is catchy, euphoric circus music. There are glitched-out video game sounds over simple, heart swellingly beautiful pop chord progressions, but the lyrics are more straight forward, more disturbing, and less restrained. Furthermore, I think they’re literal, except there’s only one vocal freak out. Everything is a mixed message. The cover art sums it up with Jamie Stewart radiating innocence, rubbing his cheek against a kitten. There’s the absurd, intoxicating, supernatural beauty in existential despair and tainted innocence in which everyone can find something to relate to. Yet he’s also fighting against it because he knows its absolutely real life, pure, consequential horror that he’s singing about. It would be a counterfeit intoxication. No matter what you’re thinking, he rarely lets you forget that he’s talking about a deformed penis ejaculating on broken necks. When he abstracts it and decides to let you forget on those one or two tracks, it’s an indescribable, indulgent, pure musical bliss accessible to everyone, but he can (and does) forcefully take it away and turn it on you. This is his music. It’s also someone’s life, and even though we will, it’s horrific that we would use our privileged position to derive pleasure from taking a part of it and making it ours while that someone else is stuck with everything. But see, when you feel like you’re eternally broken you’ll do whatever is in your power to make it bearable. Maybe even record an album.
Archived article by Deepal Chadha