On Repeat: Xiu Xiu’s Quite Peculiar Single/Video ‘A Bottle of Rum’

With things starting to blur together these last few months of a year-long lockdown that we genuinely thought was only going to last about six weeks, we admit that some rather important things have been escaping our usually razor sharp attention. And so it was that an announcement arrived for the new Xiu Xiu album OH NO, out March 26 via Polyvinyl – and we found ourselves quickly obsessed with the new single and video ‘A Bottle of Rum’ (Yo ho ho?), which actually premiered back in late January.

The album itself is a collection of deliciously iconoclastic duets, notably including those dark hearted gents and ladies of the Underworld Deb Demure (of Drab Majesty) and Chelsea Wolfe, who guests on a cover of The Cure’s ‘One Hundred Years.’ Elsewhere everyone from Sharon Van Etten to Alice Bag to Deerhof’s Greg Saunier makes an appearance. But on ‘A Bottle of Rum,’ The Liars’ Angus Andrew lends his pipes to a track that is basically the dreampop progeny of Bowie’s ‘Heroes’ – and possibly how that song would have sounded if he’d given it to New Order to record for Power, Corruption & Lies. (Goth that?)

The lyrics are fittingly somber and ethereal, almost gossamer if you will – and surely more meaningful than they might have you first believe.

“In the ways of a dream
Meaningless to believe
In a rage as a habit
Oh that is were a dream”

The enigmatic yet utterly riveting accompanying video finds them up to some or other indiscernible ritualistic activity, whilst an apocalyptic sky threatens above, and Death digs yet another grave just outside. Cats, dogs and guns are also somehow involved.

“Ricochet the pain, a bottle of rum,” goes a particularly philosophical line from the song. And we’re definitely taking that advice.

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