Xiu Xiu already have a new album in the hopper: their Nina Simone tribute LP Nina, out December 2. Today, they've announced a new album of original material that's due in 2014. The follow-up to 2012's Always is called Angel Guts: Red Classroom, and it's out February 4 via Polyvinyl. (Update: It's out via Bella Union in the UK.) That's "Stupid in the Dark" above, along with the album cover.The title of the album comes from a 1979 Japanese erotic film. A press release says "Angel Guts: Red Classroom is the beginning of Xiu Xiu's descent from grayness into the deepest blackness endurable. It is the sound of Xiu Xiu's death." It adds, "The subject matter—racialized sex, double suicide, double penetration, criminality, fear of physical harm—is unsuitable for the faint of heart. But when the heart has stopped beating, only the soul remains to carry on."
Angel in the Dark is a lovely recording featuring the graceful vocals and finely crafted songs that everyone expects from Laura Nyro. These sessions were completed in the summer of 1995 and represent the last music Nyro recorded. The title cut and "Sweet Dream Fade" mine the same soul terrain as her late '60s recordings, featuring horns and underlined by heavy guitar riffs. These upbeat pieces perfectly integrate voice, arrangements, and lyrics to create an organic whole, and are two of the best cuts on the album. Slower, piano-based songs like "Triple Goddess Twilight," "He Was Too Good to Me," and "Serious Playground" are mixed in-between these songs. These pieces are quieter and introspective, with Nyro's voice more intimate. It is almost as though she was sitting at the piano, late at night, and singing to herself. There are also several covers including "Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow" and "Let It Be Me." The first of these is over five minutes and has been slowed down so much that it drags. In fact, she slows down all of the covers as if to convert them into heartfelt ballads.