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coverpic flag Mare Smythii - Full Moon 118 - 05/13/06

Xiu Xiu + Because of Ghosts
Northcote Social Club, Melbourne, 21.4.06

How many times have I seen Because of Ghosts now? Far too many. They play what they play, and I listen with a weary sense of having heard it all before. But still, I can't help feel that this three piece have got something good going on, and despite the familiarity of the material they play, it's executed with a conviction.

As such, Because of Ghosts are a pretty strange choice of support for a band like Xiu Xiu. Admittedly, Jamie Stewart and Caralee McElroy make such a singular noise that picking a suitable support band would be a tough task. There's something about the music they play that makes you want to devote your listening attention to nothing else, to scrutinise their impressive back catalogue for every tortured whisper, wince in ecstasy at every cacophanous outburst.

With Xiu Xiu, despite their occasionally terrifying screeches of noise, there's a definite vulnerability to the music, a fragile humanity that draws you in closer, opening up your sorest spots, and then cleansing them with white hot percussive clangs and electro spack outs. If I was a teenager again, I'm pretty sure Xiu Xiu would be my favourite band.

However, to reduce their complex music to open-heart surgery is to do it a disservice. There's a refreshing lack of theatrical posturing, despite Jamie Stewart's over-the-top delivery and total immersion in every noise they make. The music works because of Stewart's conviction that this is him, like it or lump it, and you can't help but become totally entranced by his devotion to exploring pop's - and his own - most scary depths.

Hence we have songs as dazzling as "I Luv the Valley OH!", "Clowne Town" and "Pox" that combine the simplest, most immediately catchy melodic elements and turn them into little whirring, prickly devotionals that are over in a flash, and leave you wanting more and more. I could have done with the guitar being cranked up a little more boldly in the mix, but other than that it was a compelling and moving gig.

Copyright © 2006 Tim Clarke e-mail address

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