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Always CD

5.0 out of 5 stars 1 customer review

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Product details

  • Audio CD (27 Feb. 2012)
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Format: CD
  • Label: Bella Union
  • ASIN: B006GI413M
  • Other Editions: Audio CD  |  Vinyl  |  MP3 Download
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 165,242 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)
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Product Description

Product Description

1. Hi
2. Joey's Song
3. Beauty Towne
4. Honey Suckle
5. I Love Abortion
6. The Oldness
7. Chimney's Afire
8. Gul Mudin
9. Born To Suffer
10. Factory Girl
11. Smear The Queen
12. Black Drum Machine

BBC Review

Except for Jamie Stewart’s love of cuddly stuffed toys and equally cute kittens, the world according to Xiu Xiu is not pretty. "If your bed is a living hell, say hi / If you’ve poked out your eyes, say hi," he sings on the opening Hi, his invite to the lost, lonely and quite possibly self-harming conveyed via a deep vocal that sounds like the verge of a nervous breakdown. But persona trauma can also be political, as Factory Girl ("the sexual objectification and desperate existence of female Chinese migrant workers") confirms. Put it another way: if Morrissey saw misery and pain through others’ eyes rather than just his own solipsistic self-pity, and chose a musical soundtrack that was equal parts Joy Division, Antony Hegarty and Depeche Mode instead of Twinkle and The Polecats, you might end up with something close to Xiu Xiu.

This being the eighth Xiu Xiu (pronounced "shoe shoe") album – the follow up to 2010’s Dear God, I Hate Myself – you wonder why Stewart and his rotating cast of pals aren’t better known. But one spin of I Luv Abortion instantly explains why. Staccato beats and keys, squealing electronics, an in-your-face vocal that occasionally breaks into a sweaty scream, and that song title – well, it’s patently not Morrissey or anyone searching for mainstream acceptance. Stewart may have named the album partly after his hip hop-loving brother’s emotional dependence on Erasure’s song Always during a time of crisis and bereavement, but Xiu Xiu music has little time for Erasure-style sweetness. Instead, the arrangements can mirror Stewart’s searing honesty with a level of hysteria that will be offputting, even unlistenable, to some.

Yet in generous swathes Always is also one of Stewart’s most accessible albums. Once you’re immersed, there’s a gripping, chilling fascination that’s hard to shake. The Oldness recalls one of Perfume Genius’ piano ballads, while Factory Girl is similarly intense and delicate; elsewhere, Smear the Queen and Joey’s Song could singlehandedly launch the genre ‘Disco Inferno’. The closing Black Drum Machine is Stewart firmly on the other side; slow and impressionistic, strings alternating between dreamy and scraping and at one point the frontman gabbling "I’m sorry, I’m sorry," over and over before a swarm of electronics, like he’s been figuratively stabbed in the back. It’s brilliantly unsettling.

If hysteria is not your bag, and nor a song about "an Afghani teenage boy killed murdered for sport by American soldiers" (Gul Mudin), there’s always Adele, say, or even Morrissey. For those comforted by musical blood, sweat and tears that work equally well in a goth discotheque or bedroom solitude, say hi.

--Martin Aston

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Customer Reviews

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Top Customer Reviews

By The Wolf TOP 50 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on 13 May 2012
Format: Audio CD
Xiu Xiu have not always been the easiest listen but with a small leap of faith
they deliver, more often than not, an extremely rewarding one. Jump right on in!

For a band with darkness on their side they are not without a sense of humour
('Chocolate Makes You Happy' from their 2010 release 'Dear God, I Hate Myself'
is a tasty case in point) but Jamie Stewart and company are more at home when
lurking about in the more unsettling corners of the musical world. 'Always' is
the band's eighth studio album and they show little sign of compromising their
singular vision just any time just yet. There are twelve new songs in the set
which run the course from thumping, incandescent electro-pop ('Beauty Towne' and
'Honey Suckle') to emotionally draining desolation (the marvellous 'The Oldness'
gives Soap & Skin's Anja Plaschg a run for her money in the tortured-soul stakes)
and back again. From the almost funky, tightly-structured, upbeat shenanigans of
blistering opening number 'Hi' to the eviscerating, string saturated, revelations
of final song 'Black Drum Machine' (think Scott Walker on an especially glum day!)
the recording is never less than a hugely imaginative sonic roller-coaster ride.

For love nor money don't let this fine album dip under your radar.

Highly Recommended.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: HASH(0x960b3d50) out of 5 stars 3 reviews
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x96a18138) out of 5 stars Welcome to emotional hell, again... 17 Mar. 2012
By Justin Pruitt - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Audio CD
Listening to any XIU XIU album is not an easy task. First of all the instrumentation has always been either sparse and creepy or aggressive and distorted. On this album somehow Stewart has decided to tone down that aspect and become (ever so slightly) more accessible. But do not be fooled, this is still a look into the mind of a deranged maniac, one who is trying to recover from his blood lustful impulses, but at times fails horribly and gives in to the urges. At some points the album is slow and almost pretty, other times the music pierces with crunchy and sharp sounds. I'm not one to become overly sentimental with music, but Xiu Xiu is nothing short of a disturbing affair, time and time again. Stewart's vocals are of a haunted man who seems to always be hiding in dark corners with a quivering voice of abandonment, desolation and utmost despair. In my humble opinion this album rank's highly in Xiu Xiu's discography and is also a very good place to be inititated into the bands music.
HASH(0x96a18198) out of 5 stars Solid but not engrossing like some of the best Xiu Xiu albums 9 Mar. 2013
By Nonce - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
If you're a Xiu Xiu fan, you probably have strong opinions about the arc of Jamie Stewart's output; some people I know love the earliest stuff, some the newer stuff, and some like me have a few favorites from throughout the catalog. (Fabulous Muscles, The Air Force, and Dear God, I Hate Myself are all highly recommended.) After the really great opener "Hi," things just never quite come together, disjointed not in an engaging way but sounding almost hesitant about trying different approaches, some of which have been covered before. It's not a bad album, and I don't think Stewart and his collaborators could put out a bad Xiu Xiu album, it's just not high on the ranks for me because of its (by comparison to other Xiu Xiu) relatively lackluster, unmemorable songs.
1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x95df2d8c) out of 5 stars I LUV ABORTION! 2 Jan. 2013
By Sam - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
Along with every Xiu Xiu album, you're getting the same package. My ears can handle it while others may get a bit annoyed with Jamie Stewart's political, personal screams of opinionated blabber. If you're a fan of Xiu Xiu you'll like this, otherwise get something else.
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