Puking and Crying
he title Puking and Crying seems to be a repugnant one. Once you learn that S is the moniker of Jenn Ghetto, co-head of Carissa’s Weird, the preconceptions might fly even further out of control. Ah, you might be saying to yourself. It’s one of those girl records.
It might even be. It talks about relationships quite a bit—and few albums by men do that. It sometimes lyrically focuses on those moments in a relationship that seem to mean nothing, but turn out to be monumental—and we’ve never seen that from a guy either. What’s more, it perfectly melds organic and electronic elements onto a stark canvas—and maybe only Xiu Xiu does that as well.
But for the sake of argument, let’s not call it a girl record and just take it for what it is: something approaching a female-fronted Xiu Xiu minus, say, the lyrical shock tactics and intense noise workouts. Or Xiu Xiu perfected.
Ghetto, in fact, does Jamie Stewart better at nearly every turn. The songs, instead of im/exploding work their magic via a slow burn, crawling their way into the listeners consciousness surreptitiously. Opener “5 Dollers”, for instance, doesn’t even have an ending, it merely ceases in mid-strum, prompting the engineer on hand to ask if she wants to try it again. And much of Puking and Crying works in this way because of its quirky electronic throbs and hums, keeping the listener engaged while at the same time off-balance. Perhaps used as a metaphorical device to underscore the decaying of the relationships she sings about, the electronic elements rarely take away from the song, and more often enhance it.
Much like one of the album’s highlights “100 X”. It moves along slowly with a furiously strummed guitar and Ghetto’s near-whispered vocals until the song stops suddenly and returns just in time for the chorus. It’s a trite effect, but one that most definitely works. The electronics on the track, though, take center stage during that chorus building tension to a fever pitch before hurtling back into another triumphant chorus. Well, as triumphant as something underneath “I could make this hurt just 100 times more”.
At first, much like Xiu Xiu, Puking and Crying can be a disorienting listen. Ater a few listens, though, it all makes complete sense, as though the song was just waiting to be written by someone with enough foresight and talent to forge it.
Unlike Ghetto’s even more spare 2001 solo debut Sadstyle, she seems to have both now.
Reviewed by: Todd Burns
Reviewed on: 2004-09-30