[Kill Rock Stars; 2010]

Jamie Stewart! I’m really glad to see that you’ve made full-blown songs, after years of just letting them be half-baked, or not even baked. Full arrangements, some of them even kinda catchy! Awesome, good job there. But I have a problem with your latest album, still; despite being musically engaging and tuneful, it still rings empty for me. In other words, you’ve successfully made me feel absolutely nothing concerning your songs.

This is a real shame, because your songs – instrumentally speaking – are doing all kinds of wonderous things. Care has been taken in the mixing of the elements. Take “Chocolate Makes You Happy” for instance; the segue between the distorted and noisy intro to the chorus could have been a trainwreck in the hands of a less experienced artist. Then there’s the danciness (perhaps an allusion to your current project, Former Ghosts?), complete with chugging 4/4 groovy bass, and the like. But the lyrics are anything but fun and worth dancing about; Stewart is lyrically slapping a girl in the face who is bulimic. Why address a song about a serious subject in this manner? Does it really have to be done like this? This is what I’m talking about, Stewart. You’ve successfully isolated me, and also in a way made me want to punch you in the face.

But at the same time, I can’t even get myself to want to punch you in the face. You see, your narcissistic self-pity party that you’ve had going on from the get go of your Xiu Xiu guise has just made me not give a damn in the end. It’s not even worth the time and trouble it’d take. Dear God, no wonder you hate yourself (assuming this is a true lyric, and you’re not jerking my chain with being an unreliable narrator).

Which isn’t to say that you don’t have some actual heart-felt moments on this album. “Hyunhye’s Theme” is a contender for your best song. Its subject is truly something – I hope that Hyunhye doesn’t die working herself away in that cubicle. Alas, the title track is right behind it and it kills any sympathy I was experiencing before. Thus, by the time this album is over, I feel nothing. NOTHING. Hope you have fun reliving synth pop.

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