Share on Facebook Share on Twitter Share on Google+ Share on Reddit Share on Pinterest Share on Linkedin Share on Tumblr Forget is Xiu Xiu’s purest pop record, though that doesn’t make it any more accessible. Jamie Stewart’s veteran outfit has never been easy to introduce to people, least of all when their latest album opens with what sounds like Zack De La Rocha’s spoiled nephew rapping: “You wanna whisper in my ear, bitch? Girl I don’t give a fuck/ All ‘cause you gave me a thousand bucks!” When baby Zack starts pouting “Clap, bitches!” on the same song, we’re instantly reminded of Beyonce’s “Flawless” and its command to bow down. The resemblance must be deliberate, because Stewart references the song again on album closer “Faith, Torn Apart,” not long before using the record’s final few seconds to shout out Lana Del Rey. The rapping is condescending and petulant, an obvious piss-take on the mindlessness of club rap (the reference to money, the use of “bitch” and the immortal truism “I don’t give a fuck”). But it’s a red herring. Forget is, mostly, a surprisingly effective mashup of millennial chart music with Xiu Xiu’s noise-damaged art rock. Dragging club beats anchor most of the first half of the album, with “Wondering” in particular whooping over the classic four-chord pop progression. There are echoes of Carly Rae Jepsen’s poptimist ur-text “Call Me Maybe” on “Jenny Gogo,” as well as hooks, builds and even bass drops everywhere. And though the thing’s slathered with noise – it is Xiu Xiu, after all – it never obscures the fact that it’s pop. Multi-instrumentalist Angela Seo and producer John Congleton, who brought wonders to 2014’s gleefully over-the-top Angel Guts: Red Classroom, mine the depths of the group’s sound and dredge up some of the most psychedelic noises ever heard on a Xiu Xiu album, like the goblin choir on the title track. There’s a queer streak on Forget, stronger than on any of the band’s records since their 2004 masterpiece Fabulous Muscles. That might explain all the pop chops. Contemporary chart music has historically been a queer balm, either as a soundtrack to the momentary escape of the dancefloor or as an alternative to the exclusive hyper-masculinity of so much rap and rock. God is referred to as female on “Petite.” Drag artist Vaginal Davis recites a poem at the end, describing her attire and proudly crowing “my appearance will stress you out.” “Jenny GoGo” also features the lyric “too broke to be this cute,” which seems ripped verbatim from a “relatable” Gay Twitter post. Straight guys don’t often earnestly refer to themselves as cute – a damn shame, to be honest. The album Forget most resembles in the Xiu Xiu catalog is 2012’s Always, which exploited the sounds of then-contemporary EDM. That was not among Xiu Xiu’s more memorable records, and neither is Forget – I could see the two being mixed up in the future, especially as they both boast such boring titles. That they flank Angel Guts: Red Classroom is no help, either. That was the most ecstatically Xiu Xiu record Xiu Xiu has yet made, triumphant in the depths of the depravity in which it was willing to wallow (typical lyric: “You reduced your breasts to a more tasteful size D/when I touch them it is like a lobster crawling under my arm.”) Forget is more subdued, and Stewart’s voice is so low in the mix for most of it his lyrics are hard to parse. Forget isn’t disappointing, but it’s another simply-solid work in the catalog of a doggedly consistent band. Angel Guts was willing to take greater risks as far as what its fans would see as good versus bad, and they paid off even when the results were ludicrous. Forget plays it safe for the most part, and its biggest risk doesn’t pay off. And yes, I’m talking about the rapping.