ABOUT Xiu Xiu
Read almost any piece about Xiu Xiu and you'll see words like 'harsh' or 'brutal' — the same words that appear before 'truth' when an unwavering eye is turned on any intimate detail of our lives. Fair descriptions of the themes central to the music, they sit incongruous to the refined, intricate, and beautiful approach taken in crafting the twelve tracks on Xiu Xiu's new album Dear God, I Hate Myself.
The two biggest constants throughout Xiu Xiu's catalog are honesty and evolution. This remains true with Dear God, I Hate Myself as it delivers a look at responsibility, fear, healing, and societal roles wrapped in rich gothic pop music. The sound is still distinctly Xiu Xiu, but Jamie Stewart's vocals are finally effortless paired with vibrant melodies full of subtlety and the distinct sonic accents expected of this anticipated Xiu Xiu release. The result is a record that proves that art can be pop and pop can challenge you to look inside yourself.
Stewart is joined by new full-time band member Angela Seo on piano, synth, and drum programming; with production handled by Jamie and Deerhoof's Greg Saunier. Together they've crafted a fully-grown sound for Dear God, I Hate Myself with elements from Goth and pop that are expertly performed by a crop of brilliant musicians. Saunier himself plays on much of the record as does Ches Smith (John Zorn, Terry Riley, Marc Ribot). Ches supplies timpani, conga and moog along with a broad range of other instrumentation. Deerhoof's John Dieterich is all over a rendition of the traditional folk song 'Cumberland Gap' and Xiu Xiu is even joined by the Immaculata Catholic School Orchestra in Stewart's ode to heartbreak and healing, 'This Too Shall Pass Away (for Freddy).' The title track, one of four songs done primarily on a Nintendo DS, explores the relationship between faith and despair with a layer of commentary provided by the bizarre sounds of the music itself.
Each new Xiu Xiu release has evolved alongside the lives of Jamie Stewart and company. On this record you'll find more intensity and introspection than ever before, but sonically and lyrically it continues to move forward with a subtly new perspective — hyper-focused yet aware of a larger, external picture unfolding. The pace of the record grips you, the music offers layers of detail, and the themes focus on not just the past or stark present but hint towards vespers of the future as well. Dear God, I Hate Myself will challenge you and force you to look inside yourself, but only after you get lost in the music. It's passionate, it's energetic, and it affects you.
Dear God, I Hate Myself is a beautiful piece of humanist art. It's an important addition to the growing body of intelligent music from Xiu Xiu. And it's a brilliant gothic pop record that can stand next to anything.
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