Whilst Xiu Xiu will never move into the big leagues or recording artists or turn triple platinum, at the end of his illustrious career, Jamie Stewart can at least sit back and look at a decent legacy that he’s crafted. thankfully, after a decade of tours, albums and painfully honest lyrics, he shows no sign of slowing down or stopping, but once that day comes, there’s a decent array of acts experimental acts inhabiting similar territory. Whilst recently featured act TABLE may lean more upon Former Ghosts band mate Freddy Ruppert for inspiration, Leeds’ Model Warships sounds more influenced by Women as Lovers than This song is a mess but so am I.
Whilst Xiu Xiu’s music thrives upon the melodramatic and rarely takes the opportunity to make a minimalist song, this work thrives on giving the impression of space through it’s stark arrangement. One of the many monikers used by Michael Waters, there’s an apocalyptic industrialism at the core of Modern Warships, the second release under the name. However, rather than focusing on the anger or the danger – as the likes of HEALTH do – there’s an eerie personality showcased. Sparse the tracks might be, but they’re precise – conducted with a whisper, the broken soprano vocals that run throughout are perfect in their imperfection, a brooding ghost looming over a tender feast. Indeed, it’s when waters is at his most fraught that he resembles Stewart the most, where the aching in his voice is almost tangible. Of course, as with any experimental, electronic music, there is the occasional breakdown – Oil Black is a loud, emotional sprint for the most part, but most importantly, the abstinence of the 5 tracks that precede it mean that it genuinely feels earned rather than throw-away. Wonderfully, there’s also the nous to temper any freak out with restraint and more conventionally beautiful moments – a skill utterly necessary in this craft.
Thus far, there are two long players and an EP available and, brilliantly, all are absolutely free. Links to all three are below and they’re highly recommended – a forthcoming date with Zola Jesus at Nation of Shopkeepers should win over a few more fans, too, following on from a support slot with Former Ghosts and Parenthetical Girls.
Model Warships – He Took [last.fm]