Xiu Xiu has followed up Knife Play with A Promise, an equally challenging and beautiful piece of work. The band now favors a more subtle approach and sparse instrumentation. But the extremely honest lyrics and abstract arrangements still root out more-sensitive ears -- this is not for everyone. That this album may be easily passed over in stores or destroyed after contact with audio devices is truly a shame, further proof that the record-buying public wants only prepackaged, watered-down electronic pop. If you have a wild streak, an open ear, or a voyeuristic fixation on the darker parts of the human psyche, this might be the album you never thought you needed to hear.