Xiu Xiu's emotionally charged synth-pop finds comfort in '80s music and late-20th-century composers, and finds inspiration in art-rock "do this or die" ideals. On its latest LP, Fabulous Muscles, the San Jose, California-based band pushes keyboards, guitars, violins and drum sets to their physical limits to create sweeping melodies with jagged edges. But these musicians are more interested in constructing sounds than notes with their spread of regular rock instruments and found objects like brake drums, tape loops, metal pipes, and plastic PVC tubing. The song subject matter reads like the diary entries of twentysomethings and the secret thoughts of therapists, talking about death, lost relationships and nonconformity. And adding high-pitched melody to Xiu Xiu's experimental soundscapes, Jamie Stewart's vocals hit the Thom Yorke mark.
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