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La Forêt

by Xiu Xiu

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Jamie Stewart is what Victorian society would have called, “an unsettling young man.” To hear Jamie’s band Xiu Xiu play is to be shaken, disturbed, and shown something original. If they say everything’s been done, and that the only thing that cracks of newness is what is often called “the unspeakable vision of the individual,” then Jamie is in a rare class. His music is new because it’s solidly Jamie himself. There is only one Jamie Stewart and because he writes honestly about his personal experience, there is only one Xiu Xiu.

Jamie sings haunted and tortured though always with a sense of humor somewhere below the poisoned blood. While he whispers and shakes and shouts about family secrets, mental sickness, and mortal rot—oft times from a feminine perspective—unnatural percussion cracks around him like wine glasses snapped at their stems. Guitars clang and break into damaged strums, and we are suddenly jarred into listening.

Jamie’s last three records, Knife Play, A Promise and Fabulous Muscles were exercises in pain unaffected for—or by—art and audience. Lyrics named names and journalists compared his music to Morrissey, Conor Oberst, and the more industrial veins of dance music.

Jamie’s new record is his most harrowing and beautiful to date. On La Foret, he sings about death, doomed love and the decay of relationships. As always, he becomes more specific. Jamie says, “Saturn” is about “wanting to rape the president to death and eat his body as inspired by the Goya painting of Saturn eating his sons.” “Baby Captain” is a “familial love note to my brother and a hope to mend his broken heart and offer encouragement.” (It’s like “Hey Jude” but more personal and too dark for radio.) “Muppet Face,” with its howl of wind-tunnel guitar, house beats and eerie harmonium, talks about “a cat dying and the negative understanding of how fucked up my sexual self is and how disgusted I have become with myself in regards to this.”

The album waltzes between acoustic parts so intimate that his shoe can be heard scooting on the studio floor as he moves closer to the mic. Then come the pounding darkwave thunderstorms where electronics and guitars go Mogwai loud and Jamie screams over the hissing, spitting deluge.

It’s the kind of thing that makes even the most confessional-driven emo sound fake and vague, the type of record that leaves you seasick. So the choice is yours. Listen to La Foret, shudder, go sit in the sun and be glad you’re not Jamie. Or, delve deeper, play it over and over, read the lyric sheet, and give your heart to the darkness. Not an easy choice, to be sure, but the rewards in going with the latter are immense.


released July 12, 2005


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Xiu Xiu Los Angeles, California

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Track Name: Clover
I tried hard to be good to you
I felt peace inside my head
It's impossible to just be cool
Please please please
Don't don't don't
Walk like my single hope
We closed our lips and we called it our love
we swallowed a clover made of lead
It's unmanageable to just keep on living
Please please please
Don't don't don't
Walk like my single hope
I can only say it
So many times
Track Name: Muppet Face
Shall I treasure them red or treasure them light?
Though bitter juniper is still food pull down your pants by the she ass as I run my tongue over your gums
Oh honey bee buzz upon me
Slip me a note "oh God what a donkey!"
It smells like Falouja, a hammock rod
This shirt clings like dander
This kiss scrapes like rust
Tiny tiny paws covered in dirt
Tiny purring sounds rising like a pike
Stabbing my hands like a sailor (savior)
This last night of ours pathetic (forever)
Tony tiny paws turning into dust
Tiny shining eye rolling like a die
Casting my fate to the grist mill (wayside)
This last night of ours frightened and surprised
Oh tuck away those ancient juggs of yours
Reacquainted with the brush of a skin flake
Cooped up between a jyrk and a hard place
You sight your eye off the tip of your gun
Track Name: Mouse Toy
How did I end up here
Curled up on this couch?
Where did you learn such a bold wink
Whisking me off to your bedroom?
Mousey toy
This continent is lit by the holocaust
Beneath my ribs (between my lips)
Mousey toy
How did two tiny ribbons untie
And unfold into a lime tree?
Then to darken a room for other men
A dove hit mid-flight turns away
Track Name: Pox
You look so ready to kill me
With your bosses saw
Mendocino, Klamath, Siskiyou, Shashta
A wasp will find its way into our pointless life
Its stinger will sting you away
This where I live
Dripping and marked from your paint
Jesus is wondering
If even he can love you
Oh this is where I live
A pox upon your house
(a nuthatch will never bow)
(a crossbill will never bow)
Will you turn me to money?
Will I shat my poison egg in your mouth?
Signed with my conifer blood
This plastic coffin always in the shade of your sickening daughters and your idiotic hobbler wife
This is where is live
Community college is waiting for them

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