Since 2002, the one thing that has defined Xiu Xiu as a band is their unconventionality. It’s fair to say that they reached stardom through several misfired attempts. However, the important fact to retain is that they’ve made it to where they are today successfully and they deserve credit for it. The period between the release of 2002’s Knife Play, a soul-crushing debut, and their 2004 breakthrough Fabulous Muscles was a defining moment regarding who they were and are as a band. Since then, their path has been tumultuous, an adjective that accurately describes their music. Jamie Stewart is intriguing yet very relatable on a first approach, and the way he sings, screams and performs reflects a passion and dedication for whatever he decides to do creatively. Even when covering Rihanna’s ‘Only Girl (in The World)’, Xiu Xiu are not a regular band; they are a performance art collective, and it takes time and attention to decipher their message and fully appreciate their product.

This year’s FORGET succeeds last year’s Xiu Xiu Plays The Music of Twin Peaks, another of their many artistic endeavors, which is a tribute to one of David Lynch’s most successful projects, the director also being a well-known influence in their music. After touring reputable galleries and clubs as well as live-soundtracking the Japanese movie Under The Blossoming Cherry Trees through Europe, they will soon embark on a world tour to promote their 13th full-length album.

While Xiu Xiu Plays The Music of Twin Peaks was a brilliant homage to the musical universe that Angelo Badalamenti created, their last original album, Angel Guts: Red Classroom from 2014, saw Xiu Xiu returning to a realm of experimentalism and noise. Later it also resulted in a split collaboration with Japanese noise artist Merzbow, justifying the sudden dive into glitch and distortion.

FORGET, according to Stewart, meditates on the concept of the word with a traumatic subtext. This is not new in Xiu Xiu’s creative process. Their songs are layered with pain and emotion, and the way Jamie Stewart communicates them is comparable to a sucker punch. Xiu Xiu know how to relieve this pain, intertwining emotion and obscurity with catchy hooks to create glitch-pop songs like first single ‘Wondering’. ‘Jenny GoGo’ begins with Stewart’s reverbed voice whispering “Too dead to be this dumb, Too dead to be this young,” immediately raging into screaming criticism. For final track ‘Faith, Torn Apart’, Xiu Xiu decided to finish on a darker tone, for which they got support from acclaimed genderqueer drag performer (and Xiu Xiu’s personal hero) Vaginal Davis, who graced them with a haunting monologue filled with uncoordinated filtered sounds.

Despite all the strong components of pain and misery latched to Xiu Xiu, they have managed to keep reinventing and FORGET recaptures parts of what influenced them in previous releases. It transmits a message in a coherent way and addresses social criticism of the current times, all of which places their new album among the year’s unforgettable ones.