Reviews Xiu Xiu Angel Guts: Red Classroom

Xiu Xiu

Angel Guts: Red Classroom

Xiu Xiu (pronounced “shoo shoo”) is a critically-acclaimed, Los Angeles-based, avant-garde duo. It’s comprised of founder James Stewart and Angela Seo, a member since 2009.

Their melancholy, Bowie Low-esque sound can be heard in the music of contemporaries like Majical Cloudz and Grimes.Angel Guts: Red Classroom, Xiu Xiu’s latest release from Polyvinyl Records, makes up for Nina, their horrid, cringeworthy Nina Simone tribute album from 2013. 

On their ninth full-length, a gloomy 14-song collection named after Ch?sei Sone’s 1979 Japanese erotic film, Jamie Stewart bathes his haunting vocals in hurricanes of static and foggy melodies, resulting in a creepy, art pop stew. Seo and Stewart made Angel Guts solely on analog synths, a drum set, and vintage drum machines, with the musical styles of darkwave legend Scott Walker and EDM pioneers Suicide in mind.

The album opens and closes with the harsh noise tracks “Angel Guts:” and “:Red Classroom” respectively. Xiu Xiu experiments with LCD Soundsystem-like electronica on the gloomy, genitalia-themed “Black Dick” and deliberately cheesy electro-bossa nova on “Bitter Melon.” One interesting Angel Guts: Red Classroom trait is the innovative use of white noise, which surprisingly works well as a transition to the choruses of stand-out tracks “Adult Friends” and “Stupid In The Dark,” the album’s lead single.

Like most of Xiu Xiu’s music, Angel Guts: Red Classroom isn’t uplifting at all. In fact, it’ll probably go on to be 2014’s most depressing release. Despite its tremendous bleakness, the album is just one of the many treasures that can be found in Xiu Xiu’s eclectic and influential discography.

8.5 / 10Eli Zeger
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Polyvinyl

2014

8.5 / 10

8.5 / 10

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