On their new album Women As Lovers, Xiu Xiu recorded an excellent cover of Under Pressure. The song featured Jamie Stewart and Caralee McElroy singing Freddie Mercury’s vocals and Michael Gira singing Bowie’s vocals. As always, Stewart delivers an intense vocal performance. If you are ever curious to hear a verbal demonstration of the word “saudade”, Stewart’s vocals are it. They define it. Good thing they’re so distinct too, because Michael Gira’s vocals were a bit bland. When I first heard the song I was actually a bit disappointed with his vocal performance. I’ve never heard him sing before, but I got the feeling that he may have phoned it in with this song. Upon further listens, however, I started to wonder if his performance was intentionally flat to contrast with the soaring intensity of Stewart’s. I’m still undecided. Overall, the cover was brilliant, though. Xiu Xiu is one of those rare bands that can force harmony and discord into the same song and still produce a work that is completely listenable. Not only do I recommend this song, but I recommend the whole album. And if you’re new to Xiu Xiu, get the previous album The Air Force while you’re buying Women As Lovers.
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