Xiu Xiu – OH NO

Xiu Xiu's 12th album, OH NO, sees them deliver a record of duets as they make a whole host of new friends following the demise of some long-standing friendships

Album Review by Tony Inglis | 23 Mar 2021
  • Xiu Xiu - Oh No
Album title: OH NO
Artist: Xiu Xiu
Label: Polyvinyl
Release date: 26 Mar

For a band that has rocked the boat of what can be accessible throughout its existence, an album of duets is an almost quaint idea for Xiu Xiu. And yet, perhaps something this painfully traditional could be counted as just the next twisted subversion in a long line of them. It definitely is when you consider OH NO was made in the wake of, as project mainstay Jamie Stewart puts it, “long-standing friendships and musical partnerships [being] abruptly and unilaterally severed after surprising acts of betrayal and disrespect.”

These duets are, of course, not standards. The production is exceptionally murky – mostly collaborators move through the dark, uncertain world Stewart manifests with his Scott Walker-like crooning of glossolalia. Sharon Van Etten trades lines with Stewart in the song that is most recognisably a duet, both their voices often submerged in a cacophony.

Liars’ Angus Andrew injects some mischief, and Liz Harris excavates the best moment, in a song closer to the dreampop of her work in Helen than the noisy drone of her previous work with Xiu Xiu as Grouper. Fallen out with your friends? There’s no more potent 'fuck you' than making an album with a whole load of new ones.

Listen to: A Bottle of Rum, Rumpus Room, Sad Mezcalita