REVIEW OF THE xx – I SEE YOU

For a band that is usually described as abstract and minimal, there is an unquestionable amount of emotion and drama packed into their tracks. The tracks on previous albums posses an introvert, unassuming feeling, leaving it hard to trace the true meaning of songs. The trio’s seductive sound has been reinvigorated in this glorious comeback. On the first two xx albums, 2009’s xx and 2012’s Coexist, we were treated to reverb guitars and heavily dubbed bass lines which were organised in a way that highlighted that the band prefer a ‘less is more’ effect. The bands producer Jamie Smith express his technical prowess as he really up’s his game on ‘I See You’. Smith reveals more expansive sounds that incorporates disco throb and atmospheric drum fills into 39 minutes of evocative tracks.

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As previously heard on both albums, the vocals are intense, delicate and provocative. However, this record is different, listeners are allowed inside the trio’s band this time, euphoric crescendos and funk grooves have a prominent place on this record. The euphoric groove of ‘Dangerous’ signals a fresh, innovative start to the record, the vocal interchange of Romy Croft and Oliver Sim is as provocative and delicate as ever on ‘Say Something Loving’, ‘Replica’ and ‘I Dare You’. We are still treated to the music that feels as though we shouldn’t be listening, loaded with drama and suspense; the popular, upbeat single ‘On Hold’ take listeners on a defiant break-up journey with its perturbed lyrics.

Personal standout tracks definitely have to be ‘Dangerous’ and ‘Performance’. ‘Say Something Loving’  shows the depiction of a relationship in crisis against a lovely, smooth, rolling rhythm track. Like the rest of ‘I See You’, it really works. On ‘Performance’, Croft croons about having to imagine an entirely different persona for herself, due to the reality of heartbreak becoming too brutal. It’s ironic, though, because the xx have never been so unguarded before, either emotionally or in their musical ambitions. Leaving ‘I See You’  the xx’s most impressionable album to date.

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Fans have had to wait many years, however the highly anticipated album boasts an excellent progression from previous projects. Although the production of the album has taken a lengthy 5 years, it feels as though the trio have placed everything into the album, leaving listeners emotionally tired and flicking back through the tracks to find the one that caught them the most. 2017 has already found one of its contenders for album of the year, although we are in January, this record will take some beating. It’s fair to say it was well worth the wait.

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Matthew Thomas.

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