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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

    ‘Dear God’ a chore to listen to

    Xiu Xiu

    Dear God, I Hate Myself

    Kill Rock Stars

    Released Feb. 23, 2010

    Grade: D-

     

    Despite the hype and art-school lionizing that Xiu Xiu has graciously enjoyed by the underground indie community, their new album, released Feb. 23, titled Dear God, I Hate Myself, is unlistenable for most casual ears. Whether this band wants to forge a “”new music-esque”” aesthetic or regurgitate and defy classic motifs with excessive layering, listening to their music remains a chore for the audience.

    And for what? To have more indie cred? Most listeners will probably throw the album away or delete it after the first few tracks, which is a shame, because the few good tracks that exist are embedded deep in the middle of the playlist.

    Since the band started in 2000, Xiu Xiu has experienced a huge turnover of musicians, with frontman Jamie Stewart the only remaining original member. Their 2004 release, Fabulous Muscles, was probably their most successful album. Since then, the group has produced numerous EPs, remixes and five albums before Dear God. They’ve been busy, but it seems as though their latest album doesn’t reflect all the work they’ve been doing musically.

    The opening track, “”Gray Death,”” seems to send a message of “”KEEP OUT”” to all who aren’t ready to train their ears to enjoy cacophony. The lead vocalist’s tremolo is hard to define, sounding like The Smiths’ Morrissey or Grizzly Bear’s Ed Droste. But the layering of sound is so complicated that the vocals get lost in overinstrumentation. When the song comes to a chorus, the listener is left wondering where the song even went from the last refrain.

    The album ambles along until a couple notable tracks. “”Hyunhye’s Theme”” is an excellent meshing of string licks and guitar, violin and synth sampling. The string motifs are experimental in an accessible way, resembling a modern Velvet Underground.

    “”Cumberland Gap”” is another notable track. This random country song laden with banjo seems out of place in the album, but it is an interesting sound for the band. The layering and complicated rhythms work well with the vocals. Xiu Xiu could probably follow this sound and become popular, although it’s completely unlike everything else on the album.

    Not many tracks on Dear God are actually enjoyable to listen to. Depending on how someone approaches the album, Dear God might be an artistic adventure. But for most listeners, this album is too varied, overly complex and cacophonous to warrant any interpretation.

    It is arguable that the most innovative and popular indie bands are focusing on how to layer a vast quantity of instruments and sounds into their tracks. Some people are doing it well. However, to make a bold claim, Dear God, I Hate Myself’s self-loathing title has some translational clout when considering the album. Maybe Xiu Xiu should stop letting their own self-hatred reflect on their music.

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