Combining sounds from disparate genres and eras, Always takes the listener on a journey of catchy, sexy, misery. While it is nothing new to make sadness attractive, Jamie Stewart’s visceral songwriting delivers the ubiquitous character of a tortured soul with such aplomb and unflinching dedication that the spirit of the record is intoxicating and actually feels refreshing. To deliver such a pants-off exposé of one's own subconscious is no mean feat, and, as such, Xiu Xiu should be applauded for combining such introspection with enjoyable and, at times, even danceable instrumentation. The mix never sounds contrived or derivative in spite of the obvious influence other artists have had on this record. With this release comes a thoughtful and strikingly vibrant condensation of raw emotion.