BY LEE ZIMMERMAN
Ummmm… Objective opinion gives way to descriptive metaphors when it comes to commenting on the seemingly random cacophony that inhabits this thoroughly bizarre opus from Xiu Xiu. Ostensibly a tribute to Nina Simone, it offers no hint or forewarning when it comes to mandating its purpose, no songs or suggestion that would lead the listener to note any ready identification with either the singer or her songs.
Squawks, honks and bleeping horns, interspersed with intermediate shuffling percussion, all compete with Jamie Stewart’s odd attempts at vocalising, a sound akin to either a drunken warble or a terrorised gasp, and the realisation that all that’s left, and, indeed, all that’s called for, is a forced session of electroshock therapy. Imagine Tiny Tim undergoing a frontal lobotomy or Captain Beefheart midway through a nightmarish acid trip to get a better sense of this loopy imbroglio. When there is a rare moment of lucidity — the tenuous strains of acoustic guitar on “Wild is the Wind,” the discordant wail of freeform jazz on “Four Women” — it still doesn’t mitigate other unlikely comparisons (Ian Dury covering “The Monster Mash” via “Where Can I Go,” Tom Waits entering the gates of Hell practically throughout), all in all natural cause for the easily intimidated to quickly retreat.
Brazen and breathless all at the same time, Nina comes across as the weirdest record of the entire year, and might even be the strangest album most people might encounter in a lifetime. Then again, one person’s adventure is another person’s lunacy. Proceed with caution. You have been warned.
DOWNLOAD: “Four Women,” “Wild is the Wind”