Search The Line of Best Fit
Search The Line of Best Fit

Ignore Grief is a warped and wicked entry in the Xiu Xiu catalogue

"Ignore Grief"

Release date: 03 March 2023
Xiu Xiu - Ignore Grief cover
07 March 2023, 09:00 Written by Kyle Kohner

It's a horrible miracle that Xiu Xiu somehow have painted a portrait of suffering bleaker and blacker than ever before.

But as prolific purveyor's of the most uncomfortable, gnarled recesses of the human mind, Xiu Xiu have long been ones to deliver the heavy in the most traumatizing manner.

Throughout Jamie Stewart's self-critical deep dives that drove the horror of Xiu Xiu's back catalogue – from 2002's Knifeplay to his 2019 eviscerating display of discord and disarray Girl With Basket of Fruit – the debased and lowly has always been an avenue for Xiu Xiu to express itself honestly, with Stewart always the core of it all. He's fearless, diving headfirst into blacktop to excavate through the bowels of places most won't dare. He's a defiant among defiants, and he, along with Angela Seo equally spearheading his newly evolved lineup – now including David Kendrick – have devised Xiu Xiu's most agonizing collection of "music" ever.

It's difficult to call Ignore Grief, something so amorphous and bleakly formless, 'music'. Combining aspects of drone, classical, and of course, death industrial, this new album is a collection of devilishly implied compositions that squirm, hiss, and murmur like the most invasive parasitic species. When undergoing this amalgamation of plundering dissonance, there's no clear end nor beginning to these tracks. Truthfully, the record is one large shock piece separated by track numbers for formality's sake – an expressionist display of trauma unraveled in halves by the guidance (or misguidance) of two hushed voices to remind listeners they aren't entirely trapped in a hole underground, though it definitely feels like it.

There is so much to endure on Ignore Grief and no room to draw breath – like at all. From incessant, gear-grinding harsh noise that has increasingly enveloped the band's recent output, but now entirely, to their abstracted violent words spoken through quivering whispers that unleash with a creep and crawl and, sometimes, full-bore mal-intent, the band has constructed the most (in)appropriate headspace for dark, honest thoughts to run rampant. Whether it's a sudden barrage of horns squealing in random fits as heard on "Tarsier, Tarier, Tarsier, Tarsier" or the mutilation of piano and strings scratching and clawing against one another on the antagonistic album closer "For M", the stage, maligned and mangled, is sinisterly present for the band's upsetting way with words to burrow into the skin like poetic scabies.

As is usually the case with most Xiu Xiu projects, it is challenging to determine what Stewart or Seo are singing or speaking about throughout Ignore Grief without some context made available through press release. Still, with images like "A scalping knife is just a dull knife / How will I have worn my hair in this exceptional moment?" on 'Brothel Creeper' or pervasive questions that twist like said knife, "What / is your / fondest wish... to be dead / and / to kill" on "666 Photos of Nothing", the stirring trauma that composes the record's essence is unmistakable.

Xiu Xiu are no strangers to conveying and grappling with trauma, death, and darkness, but it usually comes from them pining their own unsightly underbelly. That said, Ignore Grief might be the first time the band excavates trauma fully from the outside rather than within, with half of the record confronting horror and tragedy experienced by five individuals close-to, yet outside the band. However, the other half of Ignore Grief is made of fictional accounts for the band to purge itself – vomit, even — of the pain they've taken in from these five true stories. This collection of songs, if you want to call them that, make up what is a well-intended attempt to show a more empathetic side by telling the stories of others. Unfortunately, it isn't easy to sense this empathy outside of a mere statement. Truthfully, all of Ignore Grief is just fucking shocking, regardless of the band's meaningful intentions. If not empathetic, then Ignore Grief is at least admirable as an unabashed execution of the vision, shock, and pure artfulness.

Listening to this project more than once is an impossible feat, an outcome I wouldn't put past Xiu Xiu for making this their objective. Still, there's something to be said about listenability. My biggest issue with this record is merely preferential; I would rather the band dive further into its more musical side, where destroying the conventions and structures of pop music has always been their calling card. Instead, what we have in Ignore Grief can hardly be called music; this is a noisy articulation of pain to be felt once but barely experienced after. It exists to shock with the intention of empathy; unfortunately, empathy takes time and is hardly elicited when all things warped and wicked are at the forefront.

Share article

Get the Best Fit take on the week in music direct to your inbox every Friday

Read next