Although they’re currently comprised of founding Jamie Stewart along with Angela Seo and Shayna Dunkelman, indie rock trio Xiu Xiu have throughout the course of their history developed a reputation for restless experimentation and lately for a period of extraordinary diverse prolificacy — last year, they released their critically applauded album Plays the Music of Twin Peaks, collaborated with renowned indie pop artist Mitski on a song that will appear on a forthcoming John Cameron Mitchell film, collaborated with Merzbow on an album, composed music for several art installations by renowned artist Danh Vo, wrote the score for an experimental reworking of Mozart’s The Magic Flute — and also managed to find the time to write and record the material that comprises their recently released 11th full-length effort FORGET.
Co-produced by John Congleton, who has worked with Blondie and Sigur Ros, Deerhoof’s Greg Saunier and Xiu Xiu’s Angela Seo, the album features guest appearances by minimalist composer Charlemagne Palestine, Los Angeles Banjee Ball commentator Enyce Smith, Swans’ Kristof Hahn and renowned drag artist Vaginal Davis. And as the band’s Jamie Stewart explains of both of the album’s title and its overarching theme, “To forget uncontrollably embraces the duality of human frailty. It is a rebirth in blanked out renewal but it also drowns and mutilates our attempt to hold on to what is dear. FORGET is both the palliative fade out of a traumatic past but also the trampling pain of a beautiful one’s decay.”
“Wondering,” FORGET’s first single is a propulsive dance floor-friendly single in which the band pairs layers of scuzzy, angular guitar chords with undulating and shimmering synths, stuttering and skittering beats, brief bursts of twinkling keys and Stewart’s trembling and plaintive crooning with a swooning yet rousingly anthemic hook — and while the equally shimmering and murky single sonically nods at Stevie Nicks’ “Stand Back” the song possesses an underlying tension between the known and unknown.
Directed by the band’s Angela Seo, the recently released video for the song at points possesses a manic, child-like glee and a surreal, dream-like logic as it follows a man with three women of various ages and a child wearing nightclothes in a bedroom. And their strange actions and activities are rife with a symbolism on the nature of childhood, play, life, dreaming and death.