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by Xiu Xiu

Released March 26, 2021 via Polyvinyl Record Co.

Reviewed April 6, 2021

Top tracks (based on community voting)
Rumpus Room (65%), A Bottle of Rum (57%), One Hundred Years (46%)

Jamie Stewart and co. have never been shy from collaboration—from their split singles to a glorious Nina Simone covers album—so OH NO is a recipe for disaster in the best way possible. Some collaborations in this industry feel fraught with mediocrity: the featured party feels like a visitor inspecting one’s house, feeling comfortable and engaging with the host, but never leaving a memorable mark to warrant return. They don’t want to be there. OH NO, however, episodically showcases how Xiu Xiu and their guest synchronise through consistent instrumental and vocal chemistry. Both members involved mutually etch new timbres onto one another’s sonic canvases, never clashing with impudence. This way, it feels as if both parties share the spotlight equally—which makes sense, as Xiu Xiu have described OH NO as a record of duets rather than features. The track “Rumpus Room,” for example, is notably upbeat with chaotic drums and writhing bass guitar, but this never obstructs Xiu Xiu’s signature sound. I can imagine them making it by themselves, but with Angus Andrew’s additional quirks, “Rumpus Room” is comparably more relaxed. On “Saint Dymphna,” we are treated to Stewart’s withering vocals, with Twin Shadow’s weaving in and out. Together they navigate the washed-out percussion and airy symphonies accented with distorted saxophone, their shared lines syncing up more and more as the song goes on. Holistically however, OH NO is instrumentally and lyrically a little safe for Xiu Xiu’s standards, especially since their twisted triumph Girl with Basket of Fruit was an insane new direction. Nevertheless, OH NO’s methodology is a testament to friendship worth indulging in. – Cam (8.5/10)

Xiu Xiu’s duets album is one full of surprises. Every song brings new ideas into the fold, and hearing all the collaborations play out is a lot of fun. Seeing how Xiu Xiu not only crafted a more poppy angle to their sound but used guests to bring out even more sides of this new endeavor was a uniquely fun concept. The guest list is monstrous, featuring the likes of Chelsea Wolfe, Drab Majesty, Liars and many more. You can tell the flavoring of each artist on the track they are featured on, without it overtaking Xiu Xiu as the primary focus—though a few don’t pan out as well as others. Instrumentally, we are given the group’s most accessible work yet, as it has a less experimental focus and tends to go into a more electronic and industrial-tinged rock/pop direction; but the group still manages to weave esoteric vocals and odd textures throughout. The biggest drawback is that a few songs simply can’t compete with this record’s highpoints. Though it’s no masterwork, OH NO is much worth the time of fans of any of the artists on here. – Jared (8/10)

Experimental duo Xiu Xiu’s twelfth studio album, OH NO, offers up one of the most accessible and least ear-shocking entries in their discography. They’ve certainly stuck to their guns though, as these more pop-oriented, dreamier tracks still feature an experimental edge as they make use of dark ambience, drones, and dramatic shifts from electro pop sounds to industrial-inspired instrumentals. All 15 tracks see Xiu Xiu performing a duet with a different artist, with frontman Jamie Stewart serving as the conduit through which these unique collaborations feed into an overall cohesive album. While certainly another stellar effort, OH NO’s heavy reliance on the duet appeal feels just a tad misleading, with many of the features feeling relegated to backup vocals as they adopt a style similar to Stewart that largely echoes the duo’s pre-existing sound. – Dominick (7.6/10)

Cam: 8.5/10 | Pax: 8.4/10 | Alan: 8/10 | Jared: 8/10

Dominick: 7.5/10 | DeVán: 7/10 | Hadley: 7/10


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