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Articles and thoughts by Peter Holslin

Xiu Xiu, “Dear God, I Hate Myself” (Kill Rock Stars; 2010)

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Xiu Xiu
Dear God, I Hate Myself
(Kill Rock Stars)
*7.0*
Goes well with: Deerhoof, Frog Eyes, Bokusatu Shoujo Koubou

There’s nothing that better exemplifies the irascible Xiu Xiu sound than this verse from “Gray Death”: “If you are expecting consolation / I will become outrageous / If you expect me to be outrageous / I will be extra-outrageous.”

Indeed, Jamie Stewart and his collaborators—including Angela Seo, who replaces former bandmate Caralee McElroy—aren’t known to hold their feelings back. Their hideous avant-ballads overflow with gut-churning pain, and their orgiastic pop songs burn with desire. But fans expecting Dear God to be extra-outrageous may be surprised to find that the album is merely outrageous.

The songs’ lyrics have the same disturbing immediacy (“Beat beat me to deeeeeath,” Stewart sings in “Gray Death”), giving glorious pop tracks like “This Too Shall Pass Away (For Freddy)” a dark underbelly. But Stewart, renowned as much for his crippled whispers as his sudden shrieks, sings with surprising restraint. And compared with previous albums, the electronics in “Secret Motel” and “Apple for a Brain” (made with the help of a Nintendo DS) are childlike and even a little silly.

Dear God’s lighter touch may leave some fans wanting more. But for a band capable of making people want to masturbate and cry at the same time, there’s nothing wrong with holding back a bit.

—Peter Holslin

This review was published in this week’s issue of San Diego CityBeat.

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Written by Peter Holslin

March 16, 2010 at 11:19 pm

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