The xx – I See YouCultureMusicAlbum reviews
The xx are known for their authentic, intelligent content and intimate sound. For a band that started in Wandsworth as teenagers, recording in their own homes, they have certainly made great strides in their unintentionally successful career. After a four-year break, the three-piece have released their third studio album I See You – and they stay true to themselves as ever.
Of course, production is an integral part of the southwest London band’s unique style of indie pop. The xx have fully grown into and developed their minimal sound, which came about accidentally, as Romy Madley Croft states in an interview with the Rolling Stone, because they couldn’t play their instruments very well.
Croft’s mesmerising yet unaffected voice hovers over spacious arrangements like the distant whistle of the wind over misty electronic landscapes. She is particularly spellbinding in Brave for You, a track that’s both tasteful and intensely emotional. Oliver Sim’s vocals are just as natural and entwine pleasantly with the frontwoman’s tone in songs like the melodic, synth-driven Say Something Loving and the delightfully funky Dangerous.
Now that international success has graced their career, and thanks to Jamie Smith’s edifying solo experience as Jamie xx, The xx come back with a richer, cleaner sound and their integrity intact. They had minimal interference from their record company, and worked for the second time with co-producer Rodaidh McDonald who handles their unique, low-key sound with respectful delicacy. This time the label has decided to send the band abroad to record I See You, which helped in creating different atmospheres for their new album, such as Lips with its ethereal harmonies and shimmering, icy synths that also appear in the ambient Test Me, devoid of drums but nevertheless oddly rhythmic.
The lead single On Hold shows a fresh, daring side to the young band. This reflective break-up song plays with space and melody, and it surprises with a cleverly manipulated sample of Hall and Oates’s I Can’t Go for That. The tracklist as a whole grows more compelling the more you listen to it, in spite of weaker compositions like Performance and A Violent Noise that seem constantly to teeter on the edge of a climax without quite reaching it.
It is good to see that The xx have managed to hold on to their distinctive sound in spite of mainstream success. This third album marks a turning point for the band in terms of maturity and self-confidence in their haunting, introverted brand of indie music.
I See You was released on 13th January 2017, for further information or to pre-order the album visit here.
Watch the video for On Hold here: