See also: Swans' Michael Gira Returns With The Seer
See also: Xiu Xiu: Dear God, I Hate Myself
See also: Xiu Xiu and the Top Anthems of Self-Loathing
The cover of Xiu Xiu's ninth studio album, Always
, is a tight closeup of the band's name and the album title tattooed on bare flesh. For 10 years, singer Jamie Stewart's fearlessly brutal lyricism -- about war, sexual trauma, romantic implosion, and self-hatred -- has been at the forefront of a carefully composed charge of latent synth-pop flourishes, industrial noise elements, wildly varied non-rock instrumentation, and feverish drum machines. It's a body of work one might see as intimidating unless one has had the nerve to reap its rewards.