Metascore
78

Generally favorable reviews - based on 23 Critics

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 20 out of 23
  2. Negative: 0 out of 23
Buy On
  1. Always may well be the Californians' finest yet.
  2. Mar 8, 2012
    90
    Xiu Xiu is so earnestly committed to its project that its music inevitably bursts through its own irony to the other side.
  3. Feb 22, 2012
    90
    What Xiu Xiu demonstrate throughout Always, is the way in which they can lay down so starkly how terrible life can be and how fucked up one can feel and create something amazing, angry, political, fierce and defiant out of all of it.
  4. Mar 6, 2012
    83
    While experimentation and weirdness still abound--as on the abrasively sung-spoke "I Luv Abortion"--Always seems much more tempered than past efforts, extending the poppy sensibility of 2010's Dear God, I Hate Myself.
  5. Mar 12, 2012
    80
    The most noticeable thing about the new Xiu Xiu album is ... how disarmingly vibrant it sounds.
  6. Mar 10, 2012
    80
    These catchy, desperate, searing, and searching songs aren't always the most accessible, but they show exactly why this band has such a dedicated audience.
  7. Mar 6, 2012
    80
    At its best, it's both cathartic and transformative, harnessing the transformative power of empathy to politicize the personal and personalize the political.
  8. Alternative Press
    Feb 27, 2012
    80
    Jamie Stewart lyrically references previous Xiu Xiu material, masterfully turning over the stories to find more nuances within. [Apr 2012, p.99]
  9. Feb 24, 2012
    80
    Always is one of Stewart's most accessible albums.
  10. Feb 24, 2012
    80
    Jamie Stewart's most preposterously tremulous and knuckle-whiteningly transgressive work.
  11. Uncut
    Feb 22, 2012
    80
    Stewart's preoccupation--narcissism, sexuality, body horror--translate into a sort of febrile synth-pop, dotted with orchestral excursions and abrupt electronics. [Mar 2012, p. 107]
  12. Feb 22, 2012
    80
    This is an album that need proffer no apologies for its dramatic, overwhelming and salutary take on darkness and light.
  13. Mar 6, 2012
    78
    Always is not an easy album to enjoy, but it's a harder one not to.
  14. Magnet
    Apr 12, 2012
    75
    A mix of ping-ponging bangers ("Hi," "Born To Suffer"), touching, presumed-true stories ("Joey's Song," "The Oldness") and two skip-now shockers dedicated to monstrous worthlessness ("I Luv Abortion," "Black Drum Machine") [No.86, p.60]
  15. Feb 28, 2012
    75
    This showcases Stewart's proclivity for macabre imagery and borderline perversion waging war with his pop-songwriting expertise.
  16. Mar 14, 2012
    73
    The record functions as a well-executed sampler of the magnified pain and horror we've come to expect from this band.
  17. Under The Radar
    Mar 21, 2012
    70
    Nothing's taboo in the surreal, often Fellini-esque reality [Stewart] concocts on the endlessly fascinating Always. [Mar 2012, p.81]
  18. Mar 8, 2012
    70
    Stewart is the rare artist who hews as closely to his creative impulses as possible, letting them take him to places both uncomfortable and inviting, depending on the moment. If nothing else, this is a sort of fearlessness, and that's worth your time.
  19. Mar 5, 2012
    70
    Much like a pungent stilton, this is difficult prospect to recommend or advise against, especially if this is your first experience of Xiu Xiu. Dip your toe in the water, though, and there are bits to love.
  20. 70
    Often shocking and consistently, unapologetically direct, every word and note here is positively swollen with meaning.
  21. Q Magazine
    Mar 16, 2012
    60
    It's not all politico-provocation; pretty duet Honeysuckle and minimalist piano ballad The Oldness counterbalance the more outspoken moments nicely. [April 2012, p.107]
  22. Mar 6, 2012
    55
    The ideas it presents of consequence and scars, and the deep pathos with which they are conveyed, are often compelling, but the songs themselves work better here when they sand down the fangs a bit, a concession Stewart is rarely willing to make.
  23. These are stories we've already heard told better, and in the same voices.
User Score
7.9

Generally favorable reviews- based on 16 Ratings

User score distribution:
  1. Positive: 13 out of 16
  2. Negative: 0 out of 16
  1. Mar 31, 2012
    7
    Jamie's Stewart psychedelic vocals combined with the album's style give it a much experimental overtones. Ballads such as "The Oldness",Jamie's Stewart psychedelic vocals combined with the album's style give it a much experimental overtones. Ballads such as "The Oldness", "Black Drum Machine" are holdig all the time in indescribable, almost terrifying anticipation. On the other hand, the compositions of "Hi" or "I Love Abortion" is not at all inferior. Strong lyrics and original style are the greatest advantages of the album. Full Review »
  2. Mar 6, 2012
    10
    Xiu Xiu's always is, in my opinion, a (very early) contender for album of the year. This is Jamie Stewart's most accessible album by a mile,Xiu Xiu's always is, in my opinion, a (very early) contender for album of the year. This is Jamie Stewart's most accessible album by a mile, yet he manages to maintain every bit of his artistic integrity in the process. Highlights include first single "Hi," "Joey's Song," and "Chimney's Afire (Mickensian Suicide)". Honestly, however, I had a really hard time choosing three standouts, as the album is consistently enjoyable throughout. Xiu Xiu is one of my favorite bands, and I know their music isn't for everyone. However, this is a pretty good entry point if you're new to them. Also try "Women as Lovers." If you'd like to hear why I fell in love with them in the first place, check out track #2 from "Fabulous Muscles," the unforgettable "I Luv the Valley OH!" Full Review »