Jules Bourbeau ’25
Ignore Grief – Xiu Xiu (3/3/23)
Xiu Xiu has been releasing insanity into the world for more than a decade now, so long that you’d think that they would have run out of new things to try. Even so, Ignore Grief marks a couple of firsts for the band. New member David Kendrick of Devo fame makes his debut in the form of lyrics and percussion, while longtime member Angela Seo provides vocals for an entire half of the record. She had previously experimented with contributing her voice to the group’s previous release, a collaborative album called OH NO, but Ignore Grief marks her first fully-realized attempt.
Frontman Jamie Stewart describes Ignore Grief as “a record of halves.” He continues, “Half of the songs are experimental industrial. Half of the songs are experimental modern classical. Half of it is real. Half of it is imaginary.” The jumbled, echoing clangs, uninflected mumbles, and other completely indescribable sounds certainly draw from the darkest horizons of human experience. The overall sound is reminiscent of Girl With Basket of Fruit, but with much lower energy, producing a foreboding and gargantuan emptiness, as opposed to the frantic claustrophobia of the former.
This, like much of Xiu Xiu’s work, is a concept album, exploring real-life trauma through both literal examination and emotional abstraction. Real stories of abuse, addiction, sex work, and cults all contribute to the songs’ topics, but you might not be able to tell just by listening. As per usual, the lyrics read as a William Burroughs-esque ramble of disjointed imagery. This is not to say that the songs feel thoughtless or random; on the contrary, they read as a genuine attempt to grapple with the truly incomprehensible.
10,000 gecs – 100 gecs (3/17/23)
Genre-defining hyperpop duo Laura Les and Dylan Brady have made their triumphant return! 10,000 gecs has exponentially increased the number of gecs from their previous and first full-length album, 1,000 gecs, and the four-year wait has been well worth it. The album opens with the deafening THX intro sound, showing that they don’t plan on taking themselves too seriously. They’ve kept the same characteristic high-pitched vocals and tongue-in-cheek humor, with an added layer of polishing, no doubt influenced by the interim music production work of both of the band’s members.
The songs jump from inspiration to inspiration, whether it be ska in “I Got My Tooth Removed” or the “Killing in the Name”-esque grunts in “Billy Knows Jamie.” Whereas many of the songs off 1,000 gecs had a fairly consistent, albeit very good, sound, this time around, Les and Brady were not afraid to go out of their comfort zone. Even though the track list totals less than half an hour, so much is packed into the ten songs that by the end, it feels like you’ve consumed an hours’ worth of music.
Although 10,000 gecs has not exploded in popularity the way that their previous release had, 100 gecs have clearly never been a band overly concerned with appealing to a large audience. Even so, gec loyalists have rejoiced at the second coming of such a legendary band. Hilariously, even Fox News got in on the hype, using “The Most Wanted Person In The United States” on one of their segments, seemingly not knowing that 100 gecs’ main audience consists of leftist transgender people. I salute whichever underpaid intern pulled off this psy-op.
the record – boygenius (3/31/23)
Boygenius is a supergroup containing Phoebe Bridgers, Lucy Dacus, and Julien Baker, seemingly having been designed in a lab to produce the most emotionally devastating reactions in mentally unstable 20-somethings. I had been under the impression that their self-titled EP released in 2018 was a one-off project, but they rather suddenly dropped the record a few weeks ago, marking their first full-length production and doubling the number of songs off the EP.
The 12 tracks aren’t all depressing, but most of them certainly are. They leave plenty of room for the original, more graceful sound of the EP, but also deviate into more traditionally rock instrumentals on some tracks. Amid all of the pain presented in the lyrics, support and love shines throughout. This is an album about the pain of vulnerability but also the deep understanding that comes from it.
Although hints of each woman’s style jumps out at certain points, the three artists’ voices melt together beautifully, even to the degree that they’re able to switch out mid-sentence without disrupting the flow of the song. The three are no artificially mashed together combination; the bond between all of them is evident within the sound itself. Boygenius is a testament to the phrase “greater than the sum of its parts.”
Password to Disappear – Ecology: Homestones (3/2/23)
Ecology: HomeStones has been making music for three years now, but their online presence only really began to take off in 2022, when they began posting on their TikTok account. The surreal videos are just as much a part of the artwork as the music is. Their website provides no clarification, only further confusion, as it describes a lore involving a malicious gnome and eight carrot farmers. The project seems to be ongoing, but whether any answers will actually come of it remains to be seen.
Password to Disappear is certainly not for everyone. The simultaneous first and penultimate track of the album begins with a cutesy voice singing, “Once I step behind the curtain, I never come out the same,” over and over again, but at the 30-second mark, blaring feedback rings out for nearly ten seconds and the industrial noise bulk of the album is revealed. The accompanying percussion is what really makes this track stand out, in my view—that and the intermittent screaming. The follow-up is “Fanfare,” a 12-minute drone that conjures up the image of an infinite, giant, metal zipper unravelling the spiral of the universe as it separates itself.