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Xiu Xiu
Dear God I Hate Myself Meryl Trussler , February 18th, 2010 08:19

Xiu Xiu is the music of demons. When music taste settles into layers by mood, Xiu Xiu is the dense, tarry, deep trouble at the very bottom. This is ostensibly because their sound is made of schizophrenic fits and starts, and because of how Jamie Stewart forever sings like he's been speared in the side. Each album is an art-school film montage full of dead dogs/sliced eyeballs and the formula has worked splendidly for years now.

Dear God I Hate Myself is no different, except that dear co-founder Caralee has departed to join the austere Cold Cave, and four little helpers (including two members of Deerhoof) and the Immaculata Catholic School Orchestra have huddled into her place. Just like Women as Lovers, or The Air Force before it, the album is more digestible than the early work, featuring songs – well, songs, with basslines and chord progressions and everything, that tie the flailing ephemera, the Nintendo and gamelan flourishes, to the ground. And just like all of Stewart's output you cannot escape Stewart. No matter the change in production, whether it's the candied synth chirps of 'Apple for a Brain' or the uneasy guitar lines and string section burgeoning and relapsing in 'Hyuhye's Theme', that breathy warble is there. A sane and cruel music teacher would have told Stewart he didn't quite have the voice for a music career, and all those demons would cry and turn to dust, and we wouldn't have the marvelous Xiu Xiu canon. And still his vocals are fine, because I don't exactly enjoy listening to Xiu Xiu. It's more of a compulsion. Nicotine in the tar.

So while telling you this is not a unique or pretty thing, I must express that it is still a necessary object, beautifully constructed for its purpose. Tremoring pianos and flat snares will vibrate through you at just the right frequency in 'The Fabrizio Palumbo Retaliation' when you are just about ready to die. The title track will feel like your pop song, your Are You There God? It's Me, Margaret when you've fucked up insert-whatever-here again, and you need to hear those negative affirmations "I will never be happy" and "I will always be nicer to a cat than I am to you". 'This Too Shall Pass Away (For Freddy)' will be there for you when your pillow is soaked to saturation point in heartbreak's three liquid horsemen, salt, spit and snot.

Oh, and there's a traditional folk song on there called 'Cumberland Gap' that is sort of lovely and jolly and full of banjo. But on the night you need to listen to this album, I imagine you'll be skipping it.