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Xiu Xiu- Women as Lovers (Album Review)

There needs to be a global summit conference at which all the world’s bands collectively agree to stop producing any more covers of David Bowie and Queen’s “Under Pressure.” A catchy enough song at first, the recent barrage of updated versions of the song by bands like the Used, and now Xiu Xiu, have stripped it of any charm it once had. “Under Pressure” sits smack in the middle of Xiu Xiu’s latest, but otherwise, “Women as Lovers” reveals itself as a nifty little album. Much like fellow indie-snob icons du jour Deerhunter, Xiu Xiu betrays an impressive capability to sound like different bands from one moment to the next. The hushed ballad “F.T.W.” follows closely on the heels of the Mars Volta-esque attack of “In Lust You Can Hear the Axe Fall.” Lead singer Jamie Stewart has tempered his often-jarring vocal instrument, ceding authority to his bandmates. The result is an off-kilter grab-bag of sonic experiments, with only a handful of clunkers, reflecting a newfound maturity for these callow indie youths. But fellas, please: ix-nay on the Owie-bay. [Saul Austerlitz]