Xiu Xiu have always been impossible to pigeonhole. Led by the wandering mind of Jamie Stewart, the San Jose-bred group's experimental pseudo-pop has dealt in industrial goth and homicidal croons, bombastic gloom and wild distortion, never settling in one place. They've also been unfathomably prolific, nudging their sound forwards over the space of a dozen albums since their debut, Knife Play, in 2002. They've charged through taboos and soundtracked crippling depression by reimagining Nina Simone classics. They never settle for the expected.
FORGET, their 13th studio album, out February 24 but premiering in full on Noisey today, is another confounding, clattering work from the group. Produced by Deerhoof's Greg Saunier, John Congleton (Blondie, Sigur Ros, Sleater-Kinney), and Xiu Xiu's own Angelo Seo, it is at once their darkest and most easily accessible work to date. Lead single "Wondering" holds all of the industrial grandeur that the band has toyed with since its inception; "At Last, At Last" is anthemic at its peaks, terrifyingly paranoid at its lows. It runs the listener ragged before offering up the closer, "Petite," a stark and troublingly fragile acoustic track, Stewart's voice moving from a warble to a breathless baritone as cellos swirl and meander around him.
Stewart sent Noisey an email introducing the record:
Hello. If you are listening to this record, thank you. Tonight at a show in Florence I threw a cymbal in the air and it hit me in the forehead. It was a mess. There was a lot of blood all over but, it is fine. Just dumb and I guess a little funny. There is a song on FORGET that talks about getting hit in the head with a piano, a harmonica and a saxophone. Because of that, it seemed like I had to mention tonight's cymbal.
Last night, I was washing my socks in the sink at the hotel. When I was drying one with a hair dryer I dropped it in the bidet. For some reason this really bothered me, but I was already sort of drunk so who knows what was bothering me. Then I read about what a "Derby's dose" is and it made think about that people are destroying the earth because they know that they do not deserve to live on this miraculous planet. If you look up "derby's dose" you might think, well only white people don't deserve to live here. But, why would you want to live in place where it ever happened at all?
We made FORGET for you and hope very very very much that you like it."
Listen to FORGET in full below.