Listen to Chocolate Makes You Happy
Your initial reaction on listening to Dear God, I Hate Myself might very well be a smug sense of superiority in the certainty that you will never come across with as much pretense as Jamie Stewart, frontman and nucleus of Xiu Xiu. Stewart’s clearly enunciated lyrics can sound sometimes like the creative writing of a 16 year-old goth on Ritalin and weed; sodden with metaphors and similes that try too hard and wallow in a self-loathing quagmire. With lines like “this sopping wet towel of stupidity” and “like a whip covered in pins and glue,” it can be easy to dismiss Stewart as a self-absorbed wanker. However, this would be a premature and incomplete judgement. Repeated listening will reveal a sense of humour that so unabashedly penetrates the murky black depths of inner experience to emerge triumphantly from the opposite extreme, like the rising sun, and offers a sweet glow of hope and beauty amidst even the most oppressive despair. As Stewart himself puts it in an online interview, it is to “use humour from your heart and crotch rather than a way to avoid showing yourself.” Stewart shows quite a lot of himself; undoubtedly it will be more than many people want to see.
The undeniable fact is that the songs are well-written, and achieve a working balance between the self-conscious yet unapologetic egotism of a charismatic frontman, with engaging and creative production comparable to Why?’s Alopecia. There is a healthy intermingling of instrumentation, synthesizers, electronic beats and weird samples. The second track, “Chocolate Makes You Happy,” is catchy as fuck and might even be danceable, which is a lot to be said for a song about bulimia. Even Stewart’s delivery of the eponymous chorus of title track, “Dear God, I hate myself” has a heavy, charming elegance in the tradition of Morrissey and Ian Curtis. That being said, “intense” is the word for Xiu Xiu, and while DGIHM might have a pleasant cathartic effect listened to alone when you’re depressed or heartbroken, it’s a little overwhelming to listen to in any kind of social situation. At least everybody danced to Joy Division. Xiu Xiu is the opposite of party.