July 6, 2011

Song Review: Xiu Xiu's "Daphny" / "Only Girl (In the World)" (Rihanna Cover)


Experimental pop deconstructionalist, Jamie Stewart, has been putting his blunt, twisted and ironic spin on life for nearly a decade now under his sometimes solo, sometimes duo, sometimes full band project, Xiu Xiu. That trend continues on his new 7" single and first effort for Polyvinyl Records. Set to be released September 6th, the A-side includes the disturbingly melodramatic "Daphny," a song which Stewart was inspired to write after a close friend of his was arrested for shoplifting and subsequently raped by a police office (the single's artwork, explained.) Given that background context, it's understandably very dark territory to tread but isn't a subject too taboo for Stewart to tackle. Longtime fans of Xiu Xiu's early afflicted and noisier work will find an uneasy solace drawing comparisons between "Daphny" to material off of Knife Play or A Promise rather than the electro-pop outtakes from last year's Dear God, I Hate Myself, as Stewart frames his anger and disgust using the clamor of instruments, his voice and words in a manner that makes this song feel purely visceral. It's not to say Xiu Xiu has become a contrived index of social diatribes over recent years, but the personal attachment to the events that inspired "Daphny" sound as much of a part of Jamie Stewart as it does the victim, his friend. Onto the B-side, Stewart -- not one to disregard his ironic love of the mainstream -- continues his plight of distorting pop music's biggest hits with his unique, disturbing vision by covering Rihanna's "Only Girl (In the World.)" While his take on the Barbadian siren's dance floor anthem is as much of an upbeat number that a Xiu Xiu track gets (the horns section is a flashy new touch,) the lyrics come to mean something entirely different when being set side by side to "Daphny." We've long known Jamie Stewart to be a brilliant mind when it comes transforming the way we hear pop music, finding the ugly in the beautiful and vice versa, so it's no surprise to hear just how much "Daphny" and Rihanna have in common.

Xiu Xiu - "Daphny"

Xiu Xiu - "Only Girl (In the World)" (Rihanna cover)

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