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iTunes Review

There’s no quarter asked or given by Xiu Xiu on Always, one of the most extreme (and ultimately cathartic) releases in the band’s catalog. Lead singer/chief mastermind Jamie Stewart takes his love for confrontational lyrics to new heights amid clattering rhythms and dense, astringent synth textures. His agonized flutter of a voice brings out every iota of anguish in “Beauty Towne,” “Joey’s Song,” “Chimeny’s Afire (Mickensian Suicide)," and similar tunes. From the panic-attack atmosphere of “Born to Suffer” to the somber confessions of “The Oldness,” he brings an almost operatic sensibility to his performances. The vocals of Angela Seo and Carla Bozulich (featured on “Honey-Suckle” and “Smear the Queen,” respectively) add eerie sweetness to the proceedings. The band’s penchant for political commentary is given full rein on scathing tracks like “I Luv Abortion,” “Gul Mudin," and “Factory Girl,” while “Hi” transcends its sense of rage as its reaches out to the world's damaged souls. “Black Drum Machine” closes the album with a sustained burst of shrieking noise.

Customer Reviews

This is a horrible record.

Don't listen to the teenagers writing on here. This is the WORST XIU XIU record EVER. He's singing like Barbara Streisand and there's nothing interesting in the compositions AT ALL. This is THE WORST XIU XIU record EVER, and I am a big fan of basically all of the others.


A Return to Form

I personally love this record and I am not a teenager. I think "Dear God I Hate Myself" is by far Xiu Xiu's worst album and "Always" is an appropriate return to form. I hear a lot of elements from earlier Xiu Xiu, and in some ways this record feels like a mixture of everything he has done up to this point. However, I do not mean to say that this album is merely a rehash of his old material, because it certainly is not. Some of the songs (such as "Smear the Queen") sound nothing like any other Xiu Xiu song, which goes to show how much Jamie's music is still progressing. I am so glad that he did not continue going in the direction that he started in with "Dear God…" because "Always" is much, much better and I cannot wait to hear him perform these songs live.


the only emotionally relevant band... John Cassavetes would be proud... Brilliant...


Formed: 2000 in San Jose, CA

Genre: Alternative

Years Active: '00s, '10s

Taking their name from the 1998 Chinese film Xiu Xiu: The Sent Down Girl, Xiu Xiu formed in San Jose, California with Cory McCullough, Yvonne Chen (publisher of the indie zine Zum), Lauren Andrews, and Jamie Stewart. Before forming Xiu Xiu, McCullough and Stewart played in the band Ten in the Swear Jar. Prior to the 2002 release of their first full-length album, Knife Play (released on vinyl through Absolutely Kosher and on disc through 5RC/Kill Rock Stars), the band made appearances on numerous...
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