This album marks the first release by the group after slightly altering their name (moving the exclamation mark from the "emperor" to the "you"), as well as their first that was recorded outside of their native Canada. Lacking both the group's characteristic interwoven field recordings and specifically named movements, the recording was instead described by the band as "just raw, angry, dissonant, epic instrumental rock."
Yanqui U.X.O is the band's most divided record critically. While some, such as Allmusic, praised the release as the group's finest album yet, others, like Pitchfork Media, derided it for its "sluggishness and a lack of invention." Shortly after the record's publication in 2002, the group announced an indefinite hiatus so band members could pursue differing musical interests.
"Yanqui" is the Spanish word for "Yankee". The liner notes also refer to "Yanqui" as a "multinational corporate oligarchy", while "U.X.O." stands for "unexploded ordnance." The packaging of the album contains an arrow diagram purporting to represent the links between four major record labels (AOL Time-Warner, BMG, Sony, Vivendi Universal) and various arms manufacturers. This chart accompanied a photograph of falling bombs. The band later admitted that a particular extension of the chart (namely EMI appearing on the chart as a subsidiary of AOL Time-Warner) was incorrect, conceding that some of their research had been inaccurate.
The album was released as a CD and a double vinyl LP, the latter having three noticeable differences. One is the compounding of the two-part composition "09-15-00" (the album liner notes imply that on this date the second Palestinian intifada began, although this is incorrect) into one. Another is the addition of an untitled "hidden" track after some silence (it is masked in a similar manner with the short song "J.L.H. Outro" on the CD release of F♯A♯∞); this ulterior track consists of a sampled and cut-up George W. Bush speech with applause added (it also appears on bandmember Aidan Girt's related project 1-Speed Bike's debut album Droopy Butt Begone! (2000) in the track "The Day that Mauro Ran Over Elwy Yost", as well as on Museum Fire Records' compilation Azadi! (2003, a benefit for the Revolutionary Association of the Women of Afghanistan) where it is titled "George Bush Cut Up While Talking"). Finally, the second section of the two-part track "Motherfucker=Redeemer" is about five minutes longer on the LP due to an extended ambient opening.
Common alternate titles for certain pieces used by the band on setlists include "12-28-99" (which became "09-15-00"), "Tazer Floyd" (became "Rockets Fall on Rocket Falls"), and "Tiny Silver Hammers" (became "Motherfucker=Redeemer").