Generally favorable reviews - based on 18 Critics

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 16 out of 18
  2. Negative: 0 out of 18
  1. It’s no mystery that the band’s most focused, intelligible, and pop-oriented record is also its best.
  2. Profound, innovative, and absolutely vital.
  3. They now trade in a world of startlingly bleak, matte-black liquid-crystal experimental pop perfection pitched somewhere between John Cage's frightening austerity and the bittersweet squall of Swell Maps. Art-pop doesn't get any more accessible than this.
  4. It's exhilarating and rare to hear such bruised raw performances as these. [#242, p.71]
  5. Even if you haven't liked the group in the past, you might very well find yourself won over by Fabulous Muscles.
  6. 80
    Ultimately, Xiu Xiu builds something sacred from tiny moments of pain. [Jun 2004, p.90]
  7. Much like the musical equivalent of Todd Solondz or Harmony Korine, Xiu Xiu set out to disturb their audience in pursuit of higher artistic goals.
  8. Xiu Xiu nail their nebulous mix of new wave and post-punk gloom, but also lace their tunes with uncompromising experimentation and emotion. [Apr 2004, p.88]
  9. Fabulous Muscles contains some of the band's best songs since Knife Play.
  10. The type of minimalism employed by Xiu Xiu creates masterpieces of avant-garde restraint that truly haunt the mind.
  11. Angry, desperate, and bleak, but this time coupled with a sense of hope and compassion, Fabulous Muscles is a major step forward for Jamie Stewart and Xiu Xiu.
  12. Listening to Xiu Xiu, we become nosy neighbors with our ears pressed against the wall separating us from lives infinitely more fascinating and tragic than our own.
  13. Sonically, it's well-tempered between its beat-driven and its acoustic pieces; lyrically, a unique, personal pain drips out from Stewart's whispered vocals, providing the driving force of Muscles' challenging, diverse ensemble.
  14. Musically, Fabulous Muscles is Xiu Xiu's finest hour.
  15. 70
    A disorienting work somewhere between Scott Walker, Joy Division and Matmos. [May 2004, p.105]
  16. It's harrowing and difficult, but occasionally insightful enough to be powerfully gravitational. [24 Mar 2004]
  17. My problem with Stewart, his band, and the new Fabulous Muscles is that all too often his desire to provoke seems like an affectation.
  18. The musical parsimony, cultural insularity, moral certitude, and histrionic affectations of these lo-fi artier-than-thous promise indie ideologues whole lifetimes of egoistic irrelevance.
User Score

Universal acclaim- based on 17 Ratings

User score distribution:
  1. Positive: 10 out of 11
  2. Mixed: 0 out of 11
  3. Negative: 1 out of 11
  1. Aug 16, 2012
    Personal as hell. musically diverse, gay as **** Challenges. Rocks your ass off. Easily made my Pitchfork Peoples' List Top 30. I love alot of songs by Jamie Stewart off various albums as Xiu Xiu, but from beginning to end this one is the standout in his ouvre. The album makes me smile, cry , and cringe. What more could you want? Full Review »
  2. AramisG
    Feb 23, 2005
    After Skinny Puppy released Last Rights back in 1992, there has been very little that is actually "new" going on in pop music. IDM was and continues to be cool but very little of it feels organic, emotional or dynamic (Autechre conintues to try though). There have been plenty of great bands since then but they have all been tied in one way or another to other older bands. That is the one great risk none of them seem to want to take which is fine as long as they make good music. But here is Xiu Xiu, wow! Noise, and good noise at that, mixed with snippets of melody and hooks. I can't believe a band is making the type of pop music I actually want to hear. If you think this is too pretentious or noisy then there are plenty of less dynamic bands for you to roll with and they will tap any nostalgic bone you have for $18.00. However if you feel like something is desperately missing from pop music, like how you expected your kids music in the future to be louder and noisy than your music and not this pussy ass crap kids listen to these days, then Xiu Xiu is there for you. Full Review »
  3. tweedledee
    Mar 18, 2004
    Jamie gets better every time. I luv the cd OH!