Xiu Xiu Credit: courtesy the artist

Xiu Xiu have never and are not going to make a pop album. Despite developing a four-on-the-floor rhythmic backbone for their recent Forget (Polyvinyl), these monarchs of bloodletting through experimental music leave no reason to believe they’ll pivot into the warm embrace of synthpop. Rather, Forget is another genre exercise in a career that’s seen many: “What would Jamie Stewart’s self-flagellation scan like if you could also bob your head to it?” The answer is basically early-80s the Cure, or a more emotionally scarred Public Image Ltd—melodic, structured, and cathartic, but still confrontational and icy. Some tracks don’t have enough structural support to hold their own weight, serving mostly as a reminder of the perks of gaudy orchestration to augment gaudy emotionalism. But others, like the sinister, restrained title track, manage to confine Stewart to the thrust of those postpunk icons while allowing him the latitude to excoriate the subject of his choosing. It’s still not pop, but it is death disco of a sort—and it sounds good on them.   v