Arts & Entertainment, Events, The Muse

Xiu Xiu combines music, Nintendo

Xiu Xiu is a band that tours almost constantly, if not only to support albums, but also because it has honed its live show despite lineup changes and stylistic shifts. Frontman Jamie Stewart’s arrangements always channel his energy perfectly, no matter who is backing him up.

Xiu Xiu recently released Dear God, I Hate Myself, its seventh album and the first since departure of longtime member and Stewart’s cousin Caralee McElroy. In the wake of the split of this creative duo, Stewart teamed up with friend and classically trained pianist Angela Seo, and with her touch, the album is much more keyboard- and electronic-based than the last few from Xiu Xiu.

Though every song seems to have guitar &-&- Stewart’s primary instrument &-&- Seo and Stewart adorn each track with synthesizers, bells, whistles and the like for a sound that is sometimes bracing but always demands more listens, as the songs have so many facets that the first few listens won’t reveal everything.

Despite frequently dark subject matter, which are to be expected with an album called Dear God, I Hate Myself, the songs are by and large incredibly infectious. The title track and lead single has a simple chord progression and a complicated, flashy melody, culminating with Stewart howling, “I will never be happy, and I will never feel no more” in the chorus as synths and aural clutter crash around him.

The album also features some of the band’s most danceable songs, such as “Secret Motel,”which blazes by in just over two minutes, with Stewart delivering a cascading melody as he and Seo run the gamut of different keyboard sounds and beats. Also upbeat is “The Fabrizio Palumbo Retaliation,”a jittery but grounded selection with heavy drums and a roaring chorus. The band even takes on folk tune “Cumberland Gap,”adding a hazy, skyward guitar line to the typical skittering banjo.

One remarkable aspect about the album is that several of the songs were composed on a Nintendo DS, and the chirping of those instruments fit in with the rest of the band’s palette. Even if you’ve seen Xiu Xiu before, this show should be a novel experience, as with a new lineup change comes new arrangements, especially with all the possibilities of two programmers adding to the mix at once.

Indie-pop band Twin Sister and looping maestro tUnE-yArDs are opening for Xiu Xiu at the Middle East Downstairs this Saturday, April 10.

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