Xiu Xiu: Always (Polyvinyl) | Under the Radar - Music Magazine

Xiu Xiu

Always

Polyvinyl

Mar 14, 2012 Web Exclusive Bookmark and Share


Xiu Xiu have long existed in a nightmarish world, one where an overriding dichotomy of confusion and violence reign supreme. The band, led by Jamie Stewart, have forged a singular artistic path over the course of seven fine albums. Their newest, Always, is still recognizable as Xiu Xiu, but perhaps their most ambitious to date. Synth anthems in the vein of Suicide rule the show as always, but they coexist nicely with wanton bursts of white noise, with a few pensive ballads thrown into the mix, giving the album a far more eclectic feel than past efforts.

Stewart exudes undeniable charisma, refreshing in a modern indie landscape that largely avoids showmanship like the plague. It's tangible in "Honeysuckle," a casio-tinged ballad spiked with cello and a stentorian synth buzz. The track transforms abruptly into an ebullient dance number, finding Stewart stiltedly swapping perspectives with Angela Seo. It's a torch number akin to Lee Hazelwood and Nancy Sinatra if they were scoring Eraserhead.

The industrial grind of "I Luv Abortion" is a bit ham-fisted at the surface, but works in Stewart's twisted milieu, with a bruised abrasion and detached anomie not far removed from the moods explored on Scott Walker's The Drift.

"You are embarrassed by this part," Stewart intones in a brazen stream of consciousness outburst on the stunning warped electro number "Born to Suffer." Fortunately, Stewart doesn't seem to be embarrassed by any subject matter, and nothing's taboo in the surreal, often Fellini-esque reality he concocts on the endlessly fascinating Always. (www.xiuxiu.org)

Author rating: 7/10

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Paddy
April 29th 2015
10:14am

Very different band than what I usually listen to but yet I’m quite interested in them.