Unsettling. That is the first (and kinda only) word that comes to mind just after listening to ‘Girl With Basket of Fruit’, Xiu Xiu’s eleventh studio album, recorded with a new lineup comprising founder Jamie Stewart, Thor Harris, Jordan Geiger and Angela Seo, and produced by Seo together with Greg Saunier of Deerhoof.
It’s unsettling as most current reflections on art, death and society tend to be, starting with the title itself: a gender-swapped reference to the famous painting by Caravaggio (a true and revolutionary master of art with a reprobate biography) depicting an apparently innocent kid holding Mother Nature’s gifts, who is, instead, a lascivious boy offering a luscious bouquet of fruit. It is both a metaphor and a blatant manifesto of Xiu Xiu’s will to take out the worst residing inside each one of us and sing its praises.
Musically, it’s made up of voodoo passages, techno rhythms, broken voices singing desperately over low and deep strings from a horror musical, screams, stripped down beats with synthesised vocals and house music intermissions. If I was to add an item to the long list of possible descriptions that introduces this dark record, ‘Girl With Basket of Fruit’ is the sound of Mark Fisher quoting Children of Men in his seminal Capitalist Realism.