Influential avant-garde pop provocateurs XIU XIU return with a remarkable new album, “ALWAYS”, released 27th February on Bella Union records.
The creation of singer/songwriter Jamie Stewart, for the last 10 years Xiu Xiu have hurled a succession of relentlessly uncompromising records to a cult of devotees that values intensely emotional honesty and genuinely challenging originality above all else. Evolving from obsessions with modern classical percussion and orchestration, experimental electronics, a life long dedication to post-punk and the dance floor, Xiu Xiu’s sound is, to say the very least, utterly distinctive and compelling.
At its core, Always symbolizes the mutual camaraderie with and deep dedication to each person who has internalized Xiu Xiu’s work and throughout the past ten years made the band a part of their lives. The origin of these intense bonds is frontman Jamie Stewart who’s fearless lyrics have given voice to life’s most untouchable and taboo subjects.
Stewart’s willingness to broach any subject finds him confronting both the topical and the intimate in equally meaningful ways: “Factory Girls” chronicles the sexual objectification and desperate existence of Chinese female, migrant workers, whilst “Joey’s Song” seeks to bring comfort to Stewart’s brother in the aftermath of a family tragedy.
But while such writing is worthy of admiration, Always’ most arresting moments lie in its sonic innovation – transforming avant popelements from an undertone into a bright black focal point while adding newinfluences such a choral music, kraut rock and field recordings. That such dazzling music can so seamlessly blend with such undeniably dark content is but one of the ways Always succeeds in accentuating the intent that is central to all Xiu Xiu creates.
“Always” was produced by Deerhoof’s Greg Saunier and mixed by John Congleton (Antony and the Johnsons, Explosions In The Sky, the Roots).