By Mickey Davis
You have to keep an open mind to start listening to Xiu Xiu. After all, it isn’t every day that a band that releases a special-edition LP that comes packaged with hand-made chocolate and a vial of actual animal blood. If that’s your kind of thing, look no further. But if you aren’t into the whole blood-as-present thing, don’t be too fast to write this band off. Their new CD, nicely named Dear God, I Hate Myself, was released Feb. 23. The music is not as dark as one might think, as it draws mainly from 80s synth pop, techno, and neoclassical influences. Lead singer and multi-instrumentalist Jamie Stewart, who is the only remaining member of the band’s original 2000 lineup, croons with a shaky baritone voice similar to that of The Cure’s Robert Smith but with more chest hair. Backing this up is a mix of electronic beats, ambient noise, and distorted guitars, together which create a sound quite apt to provide filler between acts at a late-night café poetry reading.While the mood of the album comes off as somewhat dark, almost every song contains (dare I say it?) hopeful moments. The second song on the album, “Chocolate Makes You Happy,” is as close to a sappy love song as moody art-rockers get. The electronic instruments usually cause Xiu Xiu to be classified as techno music. However, it differs from techno in that many of the sounds on the album do not stem from computer programs but a beat-up 8-track recorder in a crappy apartment. This joy ride is short lasting, however. Comprised of thirteen songs that average about two minutes in length, this album is over before you have time to eat all of that homemade chocolate while playing with the animal blood. If you want to experience the melt-your-face glam rock that is Xiu Xiu in person, they will be in the area on April 2, headlining a show at 7th Street Entry. They will also be nearby the night before, playing a show on Carleton’s Campus at 7:00 p.m. Opening acts tUne-yArDs and Talk Normal will perform at both shows.