As a preface, you should know that I am terribly biased. I have felt nothing but love for this group since we were first introduced. Nothing about their work has ever struck me as forced or pretentious, with the exception of the songs 'Guantanamo Canto' and 'Support Our Troops'. The incorporation of hemorrhaging, non-harmonic waveforms into detailed and precise tonal compositions is a part of Xiu Xiu's algebra, and has been since the beginning. Its like a watermark, a seal of authenticity, a USDA Certified Organic sticker on a head of broccoli.
I do not know if musicians sell music magazines, or if it is magazines that sell musicians. It probably goes both ways. One way more than the other, depending on the day. I do know that all Spin gave 'Dear God I Hate Myself' was a thumbnail-sized photograph of the album cover with an equally diminutive review, sandwiched amid two pages of other thumbnail-sized photographs and diminutive reviews. I really think I am being fair and objective when I say that it deserved so much more then that.
'Dear God I Hate Myself' is a noise-pop masterpiece. It will be interesting to see what they come up with next; they are going to find it difficult to outdo themselves. 'Women As Lovers' went stale on me after only a few plays through, and I had to accept the probability that Xiu Xiu's brilliance had been exhausted; The output of most popular musicians, if plotted in x-y coordinates, where X is time and Y is quality, usually ends up looking like a parabola.
Fortunately, I am almost always wrong.
Tracks like the hyper-oppressive 'Saturn' and 'Brooklyn Dodgers' are absent. There are no minimalist etchings like 'Mousey Toy' or 'Buzz Saw'. No homages to John Cage like 'San Pedro Glue Stick'. 'Dear God I Hate Myself' is like the synthesis, not of a new compound, but of an entirely different element. Like proton fusion accomplished without the use of a cyclotron. That isn't entirely true, since it is still most definitely Xiu Xiu. But, relative to their past six full-length releases, this work really stands out as something fundamentally different, for all its sameness.
Emotional catharsis has been a driving force behind much of Xiu Xiu's finest work. On 'Dear God I Hate Myself', instead of communicating pain in order to achieve expurgation, the actual sensation of purging, healing, resurrection and cleansing is captured in high definition. I could tell you about the virtuoso electronics that would make the keyboardist for Yes! question the meaning of his existence. I could tell you about the delicate layering of multiple timbres playing divergent notes at crazed tempos that somehow manage to meet up in your brain space to sit down for drinks. Sonic environments crafted with precision, elegance, like the finest chocolate sculpture you will never taste. About how, despite the instrumental frenzy, you still find room to breath. About how you can literally feel this mans liberation, like the first flowering days of spring after six months winters freeze being emulated with keys and strings.
Much of todays music exists as just that; music. Few have managed to elevate it to the plane of true artistic accomplishment. Of those that have, their elevation was often short-lived. Here, 10 years after its inception, Xiu Xiu has done it again. The most underrated album of 2010, and the most underrated band of the decade.