Album Cover
Xiu Xiu
Fabulous Muscles
5 Rue Christine
February 17, 2004


First off, I'd like to make it clear: This album is stunningly weird. "Cremate me before you cum on my lips / Honey boy, place my ashes in a vase beneath your workout bench" and "Wigging out before the unfamiliar flesh of my broken neck / fabulous muscles", all set to a simple acoustic strum from the title track off this strangely complex, oddly compelling, and scarily disturbing album. I won't quote any more lyrics from it hereon in... don't want anyone scared away just because of that.

Categorization of Xiu Xiu's forth full-length release, Fabulous Muscles, fails me. It's quiet and surreal. It's loud and obnoxious. It's flowing and intricate. It's sporadic and random. How does that work, you ask? I have no idea. They seem to have no style, no roots, no influences—They are Xiu Xiu and nothing more.

The electronica/noise side of this group becomes very apparent almost immediately. "Crank Heart" starts out with an oh-so-familiar sounding classic video game tune, which turns into a deep synth bass for a few seconds, and finally right into the crazily layered IDM-style diddy. And having heard that, one might have already assumed the basis for the rest of the album—but wait, what's this? "I Luv the Valley, Oh!" starts out with an alternative rock guitar/bass rhythm, smashing in with some industrial groaning and moany Interpol-esque vocals. Sadly, these are the two best songs on the album, and none of the other tracks ever quite live up to the level of excellence that this beginning lays out, but some come very close. "Brian the Vampire," "Bunny Gamer (b)," and "Clowne Towne" pull off some pretty enthralling mixes of electronic noise, techno beats, and echoy moany vocals, similar to that of the first two track, but not quite as good. Then we have the slow ambitious tracks of "Fabulous Muscles (Mama Black Widow Version)" and "Nieces Pieces (Boat Knife Version)," containing more of those strange lyrics and simple, fairly noise-free, one-track compositions. "Support Our Troops, Oh! (Black Angels, Oh!)," being really nothing more than a very gruesomely descriptive monologue on how we shouldn't do as the title suggests, is one of those tracks that are supposed to mean something, and I'm sure it does to them, but I see it as being completely useless and kind of annoying. And finally, "Little Panda" and "Mike" screech away with all their crushingly harsh, yet powerfully impelling, mishmash of sounds.

Xiu Xiu is not a band of wannabe pop-stars, by any means, and for that they are true musicians. To be able to create something of real entertainment out of something that could easily be shunned by oh so many people... now that's what I call indie. And I will place this warning: if you cringe at loud obnoxious noises or are easily offended by strange lyrics, take my advice, and click the back button now before you make up your mind to get a hold of a copy of Fabulous Muscles... I don't want you mad at me.

Zeff Svoboda

Track List

  1. Crack Heart
  2. I Luv the Valley, Oh!
  3. Bunny Gamer (b)
  4. Little Panda McElroy
  5. Support Our Troops, Oh! (Black Angels, Oh!)
  6. Fabulous Muscles (Mama Black Widow Version)
  7. Brian the Vampire
  8. Nieces Pieces (Boat Knife Version)
  9. Clowne Towne
  10. Mike