Ignore Grief

Mar 03, 2023
Web Exclusive

By Jasper Willems

No matter which shape Xiu Xiu’s music takes, their records always teeter on that infernal edge between troubling and travesty. The group’s new LP, Ignore Grief, keeps that trenchant ambiguity alive and then some. I mean, how many bands can mutter the lyric “wobble dump Apple Jack” and still make your skin crawl in sheer Cronenbergian horror?

The premise of Ignore Grief leaves a sparser breadcrumb trail than any Xiu Xiu album preceding it. Themes of suicide, generational trauma, neglect, death, possession, and psychosis aren’t sleekly forged within pop structures, like on the excellent Angel Guts: Red Classroom. This is predominantly shapeless, cinematic music that is unleashed upon your senses like some fetid blight. The vocals of Jamie Stewart and Angela Seo—who take on separate vocal duties—sound perpetually trapped within these discordant hauntologies, chronicling “staggeringly horrendous events that occurred to people close to the band over the past two years,” according to the band themselves.

For Ignore Grief, Xiu Xiu seem to have given up on trying to illustrate ruin with any degree of romanticism. Ruin is, after all, something without rife, reason, or logic. “Esquerita, Little Richard,” for example, references Eskew Reeder Jr., the forgotten rock pioneer who was last seen washing windshields at secluded interstates. It’s a senseless tragedy that Xiu Xiu shapes like some kind of mechanized death march.

Out of all of Xiu Xiu’s work, Ignore Grief shows the band at its most unfiltered and unforgiving. There are moments where you hope for the songs to guide the listener with some clear tension build-up, instead of reveling in their anguished chaos. But as hard-headed coroners of the human condition, I doubt Stewart and Seo had to do a double take; Xiu Xiu’s albums have always been strictly motivated by their creator’s instincts. Ignore Grief sounds more like a radio play than a batch of songs; a direct, dispassionate transmission of humans at the heat of their harrow. Mancini meets Ministry, grandiose in all its perversity, not to mention based on true events. (www.xiuxiu.org)

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