Monday, 23 January 2012

Album Review: Always - Xiu Xiu

I've followed Xiu Xiu for a long time now and they still remain one of my favourite acts. While I do feel that they have settled into a slightly predictable format since Women As Lovers, their output is still of a high quality and stands enough apart from any current artists I can think of to maintain their position as a unique and consistently interesting entity. It seems arbitrary of me to review their work, simply put I fucking love Xiu Xiu, but for the sake of promoting their album and maybe helping them gain some new fans here are some slightly more comprehensive thoughts I have upon listening to their upcoming LP titled Always:

Akin to Fabulous Muscles Always mixes aggressive experiments in noise with quiet and ominous soundscapes and whispered vocals. Born To Suffer will probably go down as one of their best songs, Black Drum Machine is the most downbeat closer they've had since Ian Curtis Wishlist and I Love Abortion beats Support Our Troops OH! for most discomfort-inducing Xiu Xiu moment. Lead single Hi kicks things off with an anthem for dysfunction and from beginning to end there is not a single moment wasted across this album; Jamie Stewart packs so many ideas and sounds into every bar of music that you'll either be totally enthralled or immediately daunted.

If you like music that's challenging then you will probably love this, it's more ballsy and far less accessible than previous album Dear God I Hate Myself, but that's not to say that there aren't great melodies and songs here. Honeysuckle has one of the sweetest sounding male/vocal exchanges that Jamie's ever employed, and on The Oldness his voice rides atop a lush piano and synth arrangement that peaks beautifully.Always showcases Xiu Xiu as one of the most arresting and brave acts around, harkening strongly to their earlier work but exhibiting a continually evolving grasp of complex production and arrangement that keeps their sound fresh and relevant. Always is out March 6th. Check out lead single Hi on Soundcloud:

  Hi by Xiu Xiu