The country’s favorite goth-indie experimenters are at it again. Touring, that is. Because, while the band has become ever-notorious because of grotesque imagery (see “This is the worst vacation ever / I’m going to cut open your forehead with a roofing shingle”) and depressing moods, the usual verbal Grand Guignol in Jamie Stewart’s lyrics has been offset by pop sensibilities on the band’s latest release, “The Air Force,” leading Xiu Xiu into unfamiliar waters. Not that old fans have anything to fear—the yelps, howls and histrionics persist on this record, and the promotion of Stewart’s cousin Caralee McElroy to something of a front-woman allows for more gender-bending experimentation. It’s just that in-your-face major-key tonality in songs like “Vulture Piano” seems like something of a departure for a band whose most listenable track was previously “I Love the Valley OH!,” a noisy anthem for alienation and heartbreak. Live, Stewart won’t stop spreading the love; as one recent reviewer wrote about an LA show: “Stewart howled and trembled like a surgery patient sans anesthesia.” This is as warm as Xiu Xiu gets. (John Thompson)
October 27 at Logan Square Auditorium.