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. Mar 24, 2013
    This has to be one of the saddest, most emotional records you could listen to nowadays. All the lo-fi noisy synths, chiptune/folk melodies, and strong vocal work make this a great album, though I don't think Support The Troops OH! is a very tasteful song and contrasts with the rest of the album in my opinion. Other than that, great album!

    Best tracks: Crank Heart, I Luv The Valley OH!, Little Panda McElroy, Fabulous Muscles, Mike.
    Full Review »