Xiu Xiu A Promise

[5RC; 2003]

Rating: 4/5

Styles: experimental rock, industrial pop-noise
Others: Throbbing Gristle, Skeletons, Mount Eerie, The Double, Cabaret Voltaire (early)

The opening track of A Promise "Sad Pony Guerilla Girl" is the creepiest song since Ween's "Spinal Meningitis Got Me Down," a pretty mess of strummed and fingerpicked acoustic guitars that dives into unsettling electronic percussion with a slapping sound that makes everything all the more uncomfortable. Xiu Xiu seems to have found that if they can make their music palatable, singer Jamie Stewart's words can be even more frightening. "I like my neighborhood, and I like my gun - driving  my little car, I am your girl and I will protect you." God. Listen to it and see what your dreams are like. "Apistat Commander" is a driving and compelling piece of synthesizers, keyboards, and, like much of the album, unusual percussion - in this case, metallic clangs. "20,000 Deaths for Eidelyn Gonzales..." is another one of my favorites, haunting and atmospheric on beds of synths. It's followed by the robotic "Pink City", whose thumping percussion is somehow nonexistent, and feels like a malfunctioning robot love song. Many of the tracks found here rely on almost no background music, allowing for Stewart to scream or speak-sing in the most disconcerting way he can, all by himself until a whirr or strings come in several painful seconds later. With the exception of "Apistat Commander," A Promise is dead set against gelled performances, hedging its bets on spikes of every kind of sound, poking from any possible angle. Is this slightly melodic noise, or is it just damaged pop? It has a song called "Ian Curtis Wishlist," and it will make you feel bad. Mission accomplished, boys.

1. Sad Pony Guerrilla Girl
2. Apistat Commander
3. Walnut House
4. 20, 000 Deaths for Eidelyn Gonzales
5. Pink City
6. Sad Redux-O-Grapher
7. Blacks
8. Brooklyn Dodgers
9. Fast Car
10. Ian Curtis Wishlist

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