Always is Xiu Xiu’s ninth album since prolific singer-songwriter Jamie Stewart launched this ever-mutating project in 2002. Despite an unbeatable pace, Stewart’s distressed voice is showing no signs of fatigue. Although possibly Xiu Xiu’s most melodious album to date, Always isn’t exactly an easy listen. Stewart viciously plays with contrasts, with waiflike tracks being sandwiched between songs with a frantic, anxiety-inducing tempo. It would, however, be unfair to insist too much on this LP’s challenging character; it’s an interesting opus, especially in light of the birth of younger bands like Diamond Rings, in whose sound Stewart’s signature is apparent. Always also bears a resemblance to other experimental pop musicians, including Asobi Seksu and, perhaps more surprisingly, Antony Hegarty. Eclectic and temerarious.