The vocals in particular from Jamie Stewart have this interesting timbre, almost as if they were being bounced directly from the coffin or mausoleum walls. Chilling at times, but even from the first moments of FORGET, Stewart is recognizable as a vocalist on “The Call.”
It took some time to realize the symbiotic nature of the production and the vocals, they need each other to survive. The production which is thankful from Stewart on guitar, synths, organ, and programming, Angela Seo on the synths, organ, and percussion, and Shayna Dunkleman on percussion, organ, and synth. Inside is this jumbled mess from Xiu Xiu that is easier to love than originally thought.
Especially when the track “Wondering” starts to pop into the mind, giving a sense of that pop experimentation to a bubbling overflow. There is this tense nature to most of the tracks presented on FORGET, but “Wondering” is more carefree and gives nature that is desperate for in-the-moment of being.
The lyrics from Stewart describe, “Alive is anything, alight to anything. Denied of everything, surprised with everything,” while the production becomes golden and glorious to the ears. Rather than a damp corridor with eyes on the back of the neck, “Wondering” is seemingly akin to celebration and survival.
Sulking back into that tactic of hiding away, “Hay Choco Bananas” is creeping along and subtle. The gentle keys and underlying bass is manageable until the earth splits beneath the listener and these pillars of sound erupt from the ground. Becoming similar to an effigy of the ears, Xiu Xiu is this warping monster that can switch their methods and form in seconds. They create on FORGET and especially throughout their records, a sense of prolific atmosphere building as if they were creating other worlds and dimensions for the audience to witness.
The title track, “Forget” is the beginnings of a futuristic Spaghetti Western where dust and layers of grime surround the instrumental. The steam that emerges from sections resemble robotic nature in the first generation of machines, lacking in the dexterity and free-will nature. Much of “Forget” in the first moments are on this track where gunshots ring out in the shadows of churches and palm trees.
The ponchos and dusters that are well worn not only make Xiu Xiu appear as this antagonist but the screaming chorus that repeatedly shouts, “forget, forget, forget” becomes a mantra. FORGET as a record of 10 tracks and nearly 44 minutes packs copious amounts of noise into a gracious package.
When the final tracks ring out and the ears burn from mechanical chaos, Xiu Xiu stands almost unfazed. FORGET is a confusing masterpiece, an excellent set-piece, and an enjoyable way to meet Xiu Xiu.