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xiu xiu - Always
Jamie Stewart returns with a bold new album produced by Deerhoof drummer Greg Saunier and featuring contributions from Carla Bozulich, and Zac Pennington & Sam Mickens of Parenthetical Girls among others. 'Always' is the first new Xiu Xiu album since 2010's 'Dear God, I Hate Myself' and is reliably crammed with restless ideas harnessed, as ever, by Stewart's individual pop vision. From initial listens there are few standout moments: the plaintive solo piano and torch song vocals of 'The Oldness'; the spirit-raising drama of 'Joey's Song'; the spiky electro-punk urgency of 'Gul Mudin'. Longtime fans should be satisfied, while newcomers will discover a unique and uncategorisable sort of noisy pop.