Dear God, I Hate Myself is not an album for everyone. Xiu Xiu seems almost deliberately alienating, making music that is disquieting and claustrophobic. The lyrics wander awkwardly from the nonsensical to the perverse. The angst-filled title polarizes, yet the album represents an entire spectrum of emotions, from joy to dark introspection. Sometimes, this results in an incomprehensible and confusing work. But at other moments, Dear God, I Hate Myself delights with tongue-in-cheek humor and unabashed, unbridled innovation.
Dear God defies typical genre classifications, shuffling from cheery synth-pop to experimental, glitchy electronica. The absurd “Chocolate Makes You Happy” hearkens back to new wave; the delicate piano of “The Fabrizio Palumbo Retaliation” clashes against drum loops and digitized noises. Most indicative of the wickedly mischievous humor of the band is the bizarre folk song “Cumberland Gap,” replete with traditional banjo.
Jamie Stewart’s breathy, ethereal voice tenuously holds these diverse tracks together. In some songs, such as opener “Gray Death” and the title track, he is a perfect fit for the unique blend of organic instrumentation and harsh electronics. In others, the juxtaposition of vocals and music is jarring, as on the indescribably strange “Hyunhye’s Theme” or the pondering “Falkland Rd.”
There is a risk that listeners will write this music off as entirely inaccessible, yet I have a sneaking suspicion the band takes this in stride. Although Dear God, I Hate Myself is unlikely to win new converts, Xiu Xiu remains committed to its eclectic style, perhaps at the expense of a wider audience.