Xiu Xiu | Always

Polyvinyl (2012)
By BARRY THOMPSON  |  February 28, 2012
3.0 3.0 Stars

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"I Luv Abortion" is the most disturbing song of 2012. Over a pattering electronic clatter sprinkled with sporadic brass, Xiu Xiu's Jamie Stewart cackles, "When I look at my thighs I see death/It's great!/I love abortion/You were too good for this world!" The song's over-the-top nightmarishness could make it pass for an earnest endorsement of the pro-life agenda. What would happen if Xiu Xiu played a benefit concert for Rick Santorum? Would Santorum be crowned president immediately, or would Xiu Xiu become accidental assassins when their surrealist art rock made his head explode? At least Santorum could tell people he's endorsed by a musician far superior to genuine evangelical nutcase and Santorum-supporter Dave Mustaine. But every Xiu Xiu record, including this one, showcases Stewart's proclivity for macabre imagery and borderline perversion waging war with his pop-songwriting expertise. It's jarring to hear wistful post-punk prettiness like "Joey's Song" and "Honeysuckle" on the same record as something as vomit-inducing as "I Luv Abortion" or the psycho-sexual terror of "Black Drum Machine." But anyone listening to a Xiu Xiu record knows they've signed up to get freaked out.
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