Post-punk throwbacks Xiu Xiu expand upon their eponymous sound on their latest offering, Fabulous Muscles, by crafting a more accessible, immediately impacting sound. The heart of the band still rests, however, with Jamie Stewarts polarizing vocal delivery. Since their debut, Xiu Xiu has never been a particularly easy band to listen to: Stewarts’s delivery is sometimes unnerving, other times just flat-out disturbing. On Muscles, he blends a tangled moment of self-realization coupled with the hardships of self-doubt and juxtaposes it over scattered electronic knob-turning and simplistic guitars. This hybrid creates a drastic contrast exposing the flaws, the weaknesses and sheer brilliance of both. This is best captured by two of the album’s most introspective tracks — the dense, spastic burst of “I Luv the Valley OH” and the glitchy opener “Crank Heart.” Fabulous Muscles is the best representation of Xiu Xiu’s powerfully original music, and even though the world they create may not be one you want to visit all the time, it’ll always be the most fascinating.

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars.

— Alex Wolsky

The Michigan Daily discovered in November 2004 that several articles written by arts editor Alex Wolsky did not meet the newspaper’s standard of ethical journalism. Parts of these stories had been plagiarized from other news sources. Although the article below has not been found to contain plagiarism, the Daily no longer stands by its content. For details, see the Daily’s editorial.

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