Like a pendulum, Xiu Xiu achieves balance by swinging between extremes. Even by this band's standards, 2014's Angel Guts Red Classroom was so harrowing that it begged for an equal and opposite reaction. They allowed some light in with Xiu Xiu Plays the Music of Twin Peaks, and the trend continues -- to a degree -- on Forget, which finds them reacquainting themselves with their pop side. While this isn't the band's most accessible album (that would probably be Dear God, I Hate Myself), it's still far less terrifying than its predecessor. The album's one truly pop song arrives early: "Wondering" is a reminder of just how good Xiu Xiu is at slightly warped synth-pop; though a less restless band could make a good career out of songs like this, Jamie Stewart and company put their flair for anthemic choruses in service of finding solidarity among outcasts. Elsewhere, Xiu Xiu sound prettier than they have in some time, and the combination of noise and poignant melodies on songs such as "Queen of the Losers" and "At Last, At Last" evokes the band's early-2000s work. The standout "Jenny GoGo" is equally spooky and danceable, with a darkly mischievous vibe that feels like it rubbed off from Xiu Xiu Plays the Music of Twin Peaks. At other points on Forget, the band puts the pop back in popularizing as they recontextualize underground artists and obscure instruments, whether it's the carillon that graces "Hay Choco Bananas" or the brash vocal stylings of Banjee Ball choreographer Enyce Smith that add an extra strength and ferocity to "The Call." Here and on "Get Up," a fine example of the mix of melodrama and honesty that Xiu Xiu does so well, there's an emotional directness that may be the most truly pop thing about Forget. Of course, it wouldn't be a Xiu Xiu album without at least one gut-wrenching moment. "Faith, Torn Apart" closes Forget with performance artist Vaginal Davis reading a poem Stewart wrote about young girls sold into prostitution; when she reads lines like "my gaze is never going to settle/my smirk is a shadow," the cumulative effect is softly, slowly devastating. Dark and luminous at the same time, Forget allows Xiu Xiu to redefine pop in a way that's true to their volatile -- but always gripping -- nature.
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AllMusic Review by Heather Phares