Dear God, I Hate Myself (Kill Rock Stars)
Dear God, I Hate Myself offers some of Xiu Xiu's most accessible moments—the bittersweet pop of "Chocolate Makes You Happy," the pulsing "This Too Shall Pass Away," the electro-acoustic title track—and hints, just barely, at the dreamy atmospherics of early 4AD bands like Cocteau Twins and the sardonic dance-pop of the Pet Shop Boys. But the experimental California pop group is in no danger of going mainstream; this album, the band's seventh, is still willfully eclectic, pulling in pieces from chamber music, folk, and noise, and confoundingly intelligent. The collage-style composition, mixing samples, live instruments, and synthesizers, teases listeners, pulling its grooves out from under the songs as soon as they appear, but singer Jamie Stewart's voice has never sounded as smooth. The exact formula the band's working with is never quite clear—are they taking pop apart, or are they building it up out of chaos? But trying to figure it out, or just immersing yourself in the album's depths, is well worth the time spent.