The reigning King of Discomfort, Jamie Stewart, and his new bandmate, Angela Seo (who took Cold Caveward–bound Caralee McElroy's place last year), recently released a video for this album's title track in which Seo forces herself to puke in front of the camera. In Xiu Xiu terms, the only shocking part of the ordeal is that self-induced vomiting rests at the outskirts of the boundaries the band have pushed on Dear God, I Hate Myself.
Don't get me wrong — most of this album still feels like the soundtrack to the public reading of a journal entry someone wrote on the worst day of his or her life. But slapped up against all the trademark self-mutilation and gore-flick orchestration ("Impossible Feeling"), binging and purging ("Chocolate Makes You Happy"), and jumbled beeps and screeches (every song) are plenty of downright buoyant and beautiful moments.
So buoyant, in fact, that a handful of tracks could be considered danceable. In "The Fabrizio Palumbo Retaliation," Stewart cedes that "for a weekend there/I have the will to go on," and later he stupefies us with "Cumberland Gap," a jaunty, banjo-driven folk tune. But the kicker, for both music and lyrics, is Xiu Xiu's version of a pep talk, "This Too Shall Pass Away," where Stewart shows that being the most tortured musician of all time makes his fleeting flecks of hope doubly heartfelt.
XIU XIU | Middle East downstairs, 480 Mass Ave, Cambridge | April 10 @ 9 pm | $12 | 18+ | 617.864.EAST orwww.mideastclub.com