Xiu Xiu's latest outing is by far their most pop-influenced album, but while it may be more sonically palatable than previous releases the lyrical subject matter is typically dark and morbid, with songs about eating disorders, self-mutilation and serial killers making up the twelve tracks on offer. As per usual, lead singer Jamie Stewart imbues his work with a sense of pathos, mixing self-deprecating humour with elements of tragedy and horror. Stewart's aesthetic approach is perhaps more consistently maximalist here, displaying less dynamic and textural range, and certainly the album is a far cry from the more foreboding and quietly unsettling La Forêt and lacking the variety of career-peak Fabulous Muscles, but this lends the songs, and therefore the album as a whole, a confidant momentum that carries the listener along a brief but extremely dense half hour.
With Dear God Stewart seems less preoccupied with confrontational and jarring compositions, though there still remains trace elements of these qualities, instead the music is characterized by a more rousing and upbeat sound this time around. According to the press release one of the instruments used in the making of the album was a Nintendo DS, and one track even makes prominent use of a children's choir; it is details such as this that belie the bleak title and make the album fun to listen to. There are also moments of tenderness, such as in the lament of Hyunhye's Theme, about a law student working hard to please their parents, and on This Too Shall Pass Away (For Freddy) where consolation comes in the assurance that "at least you are not alone" in feeling pain and that it is, like all things, transient. The title track, an ode to self-loathing and dysfunctional behaviour as well as a plea for spiritual love, is a definite highlight. Stewart also manages to squeeze in an unexpected cover of Cumberland Gap, a 19th century Appalachian folk song. Dear God, I Hate Myself is an odd but assured juxtaposition of dark subject matter and dense yet melodious music that works brilliantly and makes for one of Xiu Xiu's most exciting releases to date.
The album is released on 23rd February through Kill All Rock Stars, preceded by the release of the title track as lead single on iTunes on January 19th.
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