Rarely is so much meaning conveyed in the space of six letters. And with regard to Xiu Xiu, its applications are infinite: always relevant, always provocative, always surprising, always evolving, always glittering.
It’s fitting, then, that as the band (now comprised of Jamie Stewart, Angela Seo, Bettina Escauriza, Marc Riordan, and returning member Devin Hoff) marks a decade in existence, such a powerful sentiment would serve as the title of its latest album. At its core, Always symbolizes the mutual camaraderie with and deep dedication to each person who has internalized Xiu Xiu’s work, tattooed its name on their skin or soul, and throughout the past ten years made the band a part of their lives.
The origin of these intense, everlasting bonds is Stewart. His fearless lyrics have given voice to life’s most untouchable and taboo subjects, while his distinctively committed but hushed vocals crystallize and medicate their unsettling impact.
Those familiar with the band’s work will take particular note of the times Stewart re-visits profoundly personal accounts from his own life – most prominently on “Beauty Towne” (a not-so-uplifting postscript to the muddle of those depicted in “Clowne Towne” from 2004’s Fabulous Muscles) and “Black Drum Machine” (which finishes the narrative of incest and molestation begun on “Black Keyboard” from 2008’s Women As Lovers).