XXL Spicchiology?

Important Records Cd

Though ostensibly an equal partnership between Jamie Stewart, aka US mutant pop mini-icon Xiu Xiu, and the italian experimental outfit Larsen, one wonders wheter the latter are chiefly responsible for the more interesting moments of this second collaborative release.

The opening pair of instrumentals, “So Easy, So Cheap” and “Daydrinking”, are as eerie and fascinating as a Simonetti soundtrack, but as soon as flamboyant Stewart opens his mouth on “Little Mouse Of The Favelas” we’re in sub-magnetic fields songsmith territory, and the vocalist’s barely adequate breathy baritone is palced so high in the mix it is impossible to ignore.

“King of Koalas” manages to transcend Stewart’s Cure fetish with an extended instrumental passage featuring accordion from Larsen’s Paolo Dellapiana.

“The Green Count Tapes” is equally successful, suggesting that Xiu Xiu would do well to concentrate more on subtly atmospheric mood-building rather than their usual melodramatic nonsense.

On “Last in The Society” Stewart reasserts his vocal presence, coming across like a deflated Alan Vega; thankfully the song soon goes its own way, stubbornly refusing to be ruined.

In thruth, even the more Xiu Xiu-like traditionally structured songs on Spicchiology? Eventually transform themselves, butterfly-like, into things of beauty, making this collaboration worth investigating despite its flaws

Joseph Stannard
The Wire # 281, July 2007