Xiu Xiu – Plays the Music of Twin Peaks

Friday 20th, May 2016 / 16:30
By Colin Gallant

xiu-xiu-xiu-xiu-plays-the-music-of-twin-peaks-2016Poly Vinyl / Bella Union

The word of Xiu Xiu recording an album entirely made up of covers from David Lynch’s canonized Twin Peaks series was a dangerous proposition. Musicians of the new millennium have robbed the grave of the show so thoroughly that it puts Jim Morrison to shame. But who better than the Xiu? Chief songwriter Jamie Stewart has always dealt in the uncomfortable, unspoken horrors of sex and violence that also exist beneath the pristine exterior of the town of Twin Peaks. With the show set to make a brazen return and a new generation of hip fans, could Stewart and co. really pull off such sacred subject matter?

The answer is an emphatic yes. Instead of trying to outdo the original compositions or alter them to the point of being unrecognizable, Xiu Xiu has found a way to create a parallel to the original that honours it naturally. At 70 minutes in length and with seamless transitions of mood and structure, it isn’t valuable to offer a track-by-track analysis, as Twin Peaks itself isn’t a puzzle that can be solved by concentrating on individual pieces.

A useful genre reference point is post-rock, given the instrumental tendencies and attention to eerie mood in the work. Better still are adjectives noir-ish, minimal and patient.

Xiu Xiu’s success on Plays the Music of Twin Peaks is such that it produces a failure on behalf of this critic; they’ve accomplished an immense piece that rivals the work of one of the world’s hardest to describe auteurs. It’s addictive and exhausting, something I may still be trying to find the words for long after Twin Peaks returns to air.