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Album Review: Xiu Xiu’s Angel Guts: Red Classroom

February 24, 2014 | 2:32pm EST

Xiu Xiu (the demon-baby of San Jose native Jamie Stewart) recently released their latest album Angel Guts: Red Classroom. It is a comically dark and suspenseful journey into a dank basement of Frankenstein-inspired electronic doom. The slow and simple midi rhythms drip lifelessly like water droplets and splatter into a puddle of cold, stagnant and a-tonal clambering. What Xiu Xiu does well is create a dark and enveloping mood that sounds like something very old and very cutting edge simultaneously. Their music does not follow specific and traditional song structures or have hooks or even distinguishable melodies, but rather generates an ominous vibe. They use repetition effectively and lure their victims/listeners into a cryptic trance. They then assault the unsuspecting listener with ludicrously offensive and vile lyrics that are worked in between the spaces of their electronic pings and drum kit smashes. The vocals give the otherwise soulless music a somewhat human element, so it is not accurate to describe Xiu Xiu as purely electronic. There are elements of traditional songwriting beneath the layers of synthesizer machinery. This album succeeds in being dark and creepy but is also sometimes hard to take seriously. I dig it for its dark, trance-like vibe. But I often grew tired of the over the top ghoul-like ranting.

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