Monday, December 9th, 2019

Xiu Xiu – Pumpkin Attack on Mommy and Daddy

We luv the controversy OH!


Jacob Sujin Kuppermann: In the early years of high school I was deeply into Swans — specifically, the pair of albums that Michael Gira put out in 2012 and 2014. I cannot recall if these albums were good. I am not inclined to revisit them, given Michael Gira’s unpleasantness as a person. Yet in the all-consuming hammer of a beat that drives “Pumpkin Attack on Mommy and Daddy” I feel the same energy that 15-year-old me found so compelling in Swans’ heaviness. It’s not even particularly hard or aggressive in its sound — the weight it carries squirms beneath its surface, ready to explode outwards without ever doing so. There’s no release or jump scare here, just further coiling and rising action. It’s dread music, a caldera of fear. I am no longer drawn to sounds like this, but I cannot help but feel nostalgic for its thump.

Vikram Joseph: I used to think I liked Xiu Xiu, but play counts don’t lie, and looking back it’s clear I liked the concept more than the reality. I lost track of them sometime around the turn of the decade — presumably I came to the conclusion that my iTunes could only hold so many performatively unsettling, hook-light records that I hardly ever listen to. I was intrigued to find out whether they’d changed, and “Pumpkin Attack on Mommy and Daddy” is certainly different to the Xiu Xiu of a decade ago — a deranged techno grind that sounds like HEALTH on some very bad pills — but it rings rather hollow: provocation as its own end with little to back it up. Plus ça change, etc.

Tim de Reuse: It’s a structureless mess, yeah, but it’s easy to follow. The beat is stubbornly un-syncopated, the bassline hammers a single note for five minutes, there really aren’t that many elements at play at any one time, and the vocal clips only occasionally poke out of the mix (“no-thing! no-thing! no-no-no-thing!”) to deliver disjointed nonsense. There is little salient cause-and-effect relationship from one moment to the next, and this has the lovely effect of trapping you in the present for five minutes, in a way that your typical verse-chorus-verse situation couldn’t really accomplish. For five minutes, it takes a couple measures of industrial fever dream and contorts them, rotates them in place, shows you new angles on it, and the straightforwardness of the composition makes all of these little tweaks gel together in memory. This is what a nightmare feels like when you’re six years old and terror is still a relatively simple thing.

Nortey Dowuona: This sounds like a brain being squished and all the memories running into the bathroom and shaking a toothbrush. The bass drums run in. First, with a scattering of toothbrush and vocals, then a descent of rattling percussion layered with hurling phone shrieks, with vocal samples ladled in, then clumsysnares dripping in with a break for a story, with shrimp synths shredding their voices as the bass drops out, with another break for another vocal samples, with bass dropping out as Jerry creeps across the Moog synth to turn on the TV, with the shrimp synths slipping back with the bass as more vocal samples, emitting from the TV, who closes the song out.

Ian Mathers: I am generally such a fan of the existence of Xiu Xiu, what you might call the whole rich tapestry, that even though I prefer it when their material veers a couple steps closer to “song,” I’m still fond of this meandering thing. Honestly, I’ve spent so much of 2019 listening to Coil that it’d be weird if I didn’t like this.

Joshua Minsoo Kim: Appealing in the way that a lot of EBM is for me: it’s cold and sterile and makes me feel completely hollow.

Iain Mew: If this was truly horrible and pushed abrasion that bit further, or if it had truly “no nothing” and pushed boredom that bit further, I could at least feel something about it, even if it was hatred. As it is, it’s an endurance test that doesn’t even give any particular feeling of reward for having endured it.

Kylo Nocom: Forgive me for not entertaining the noise of the edgelord underground. Forgive me for finding Jamie Stewart’s voyeuristic disrespect of black bodies, alive and dead, terrible enough to where any of my goodwill has been drained for his work. Forgive me for thinking we can do better than believing that dunderheaded aggression, the kind aided by the likes of Fantano and RateYourMusic circles, is the only mode of “avant-garde” aesthetics worth caring for. Forgive me for not seeing sub-“Windowlicker” noise, Psycho string plucks, John Carpenter synths, and exoticized valley girl narrations as the genius they are; I only hear the music of people who don’t care about what gets shat out, as long as its listeners find its chaos confusing enough to mistake it for meaning.

Wayne Weizhen Zhang: I’m all for befuddling, odd experimental music, but my only lasting impression of this song is that when I played it using speakers in my living room, my roommate shouted at me: “What the hell is this? It sounds like someone on ketamine decided to make a song!” 

Thomas Inskeep: A soundtrack to a performance art piece (as its video makes perfectly clear) that never coalesces as any kind of song. It kind of wants to be an avant-garde version of a late ’80s My Life With The Thrill Kill Kult record, but never gets there. What remains is instead just sophomoric collage.

Reader average: [0] (108 votes)

Vote: 0   1   2   3   4   5   6   7   8   9   10

4 Responses to “Xiu Xiu – Pumpkin Attack on Mommy and Daddy”

  1. Kylo is completely right and I wish I’d given this the 4 that it deserves for being worse than my own experimental blobs that I made when I was 14.

  2. for what it’s worth Xiu Xiu do have tunes!!! “i luv the valley, oh,” “the call,” “get up” are all very good

  3. @kylo Apistat Commander still goes HARD, too

  4. With a disparate keyboard smash of noises ranging from flying saucer warbles to existentialist questions (“If you wanna be a human being”), repetition somehow seems to break the nonexistent structure of “Pumpkin Attack on Mommy and Daddy,” which just proves that analyzing this song will yield the same pointless, desperate false profundities and meaning-searchings that Buñuel’s “Un Chien Andalou” provoked.