Xiu Xiu The Air Force

Xiu Xiu The Air Force
This is his fifth full-length in four years, but mastermind Jamie Stewart is still churning the cauldron of pathos, sex and squalor that is Xiu Xiu. Considering the band’s mandate of writing only about real-life events, it’s impressive that Stewart and his cousin/band-mate Caralee McElroy haven’t become jaded. Thankfully, it seems as long as there’s abjection in this world, Xiu Xiu will have something to sing about. The Air Force is no real departure; the same erratic beats, faux-operatic whisper/wailing and sad lo-fi synth music prop up the same sordid and uncomfortably honest tales of sex and violence and sexual violence. The album moves in and out of artistic abstruseness, but when it stops in pop territory it gets surprisingly comfortable. "Boy Soprano,” "Vulture Piano” and "Save Me Save Me” are all frightening and insidiously catchy — the band have a few jar tactics up their sleeves (the abrupt quiet/loud switch being a standby), but the technique of twisting a great melody into something diabolical-sounding is always eerie and effective. In this way, The Air Force charts the development of one of Xiu Xiu’s widely recognised assets: their ability to engage listeners on a visceral level. Whether they’re making depressed art pop or experimental clatter, it’s impossible to listen casually.

This might be bullshit, but I read on Wikipedia that you got married. Stewart: (Laughs hard) That was probably our tour manager. He thinks that kind of shit is funny — in fact, it is funny, but it’s entirely untrue.

You have a very devoted fan base… given the volatile nature of your music, have you had any weird encounters? Mostly people are incredibly sweet and generous. We’ve certainly met people who are incredibly attached to what we’re working on, but any time we’ve ever talked to anyone for more than three or four minutes, they’ve realised that we’re gigantic dorks and become incredibly disappointed.

Out of personal interest, can you recommend any good horror movies? I’m totally freaked out by horror movies and I can’t watch them. I just finished working on a project with an ambient artist, Grouper... She does this series of pieces about Freddy Krueger. I asked her why, and it came up that we had the exact same longstanding negative experiences with that stuff. It ended up being the initial inspiration for the collaboration we just finished... The theme for the piece is horror movies that inspired real childhood horrible experiences. It’s supposed to come out about the same time as The Air Force. (5RC)