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'Gray Death' by Xiu Xiu

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Xiu Xiu: A Cauldron Of Emotion

Xiu Xiu: A Cauldron Of Emotion

'Gray Death' by Xiu Xiu

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In "Gray Death," Xiu Xiu singer Jamie Stewart (right) offers scattered moments of accessibility amid the goth-tinged pathos. Huy Ngo hide caption

toggle caption Huy Ngo

In "Gray Death," Xiu Xiu singer Jamie Stewart (right) offers scattered moments of accessibility amid the goth-tinged pathos.

Huy Ngo

Friday's Pick

  • Artist: Xiu Xiu
  • Song: "Gray Death"
  • CD: Dear God, I Hate Myself
  • Genre: Experimental

The seventh album in Xiu Xiu's nearly decade-deep discography, Dear God, I Hate Myself easily ranks as the band's most listener-friendly work. Sure, on its barest level, Dear God retains the abrasive and vinegary quality of its predecessors. But despite his penchant for piercing distortion, discordant synth overdubs and trilling vocals, frontman Jamie Stewart finds Dear God's comparatively comfortable hook-laden middle ground.

In "Gray Death," with its chameleonic tempo and layered orchestration, Stewart provides scattered moments of accessibility amid the goth-tinged pathos. But before the listener pegs a new direction, the true-to-form Stewart warbles, "You expect me to be outrageous / I will be extra-outrageous." The singer's ace card here: Xiu Xiu's newest addition, keyboardist Angela Seo, who helps him unleash anthemic and contrasting rhythms with an ebb and flow that ratchets up the dramatic tension. Obviously, Xiu Xiu indulges Stewart's Morrissey-lite sweet tooth with a mopey refrain of “Beat, beat me to death / I said it."

But Xiu Xiu keys down the dreary atmospherics with a touch of sweet lyricism for the narrator's dead lover: "You were beautiful and I loved you," Stewart sings, adding, "My little bank-robbing boy." The result adds up to a surprising cauldron of emotion that only occasionally indulges in self-loathing.

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