Album: Xiu Xiu, Always (Bella Union)

Xiu Xiu have been knocking around under the radar for a decade now, and Always may well be the Californians' finest yet.

In a vulnerable vibrato pitched midway between Antony Hegarty and Feargal Sharkey, Jamie Stewart delivers thoughtful, often harrowing lyrics – topics include an Afghan boy murdered for sport by US soldiers – invariably over a thunderous electro backing which has you imagining peak-era New Order waking up amid the horrors of the new millennium. Magnificent.