Written By: Fletcher Bonin
Earlier this year, The xx returned to music’s center stage when they dropped ‘On Hold’, a single off of their much-anticipated return via the album I See You. Upon listening, you will find it is no surprise that this spent time on the Top 100 chart. The released single is emblematic of the album itself. It features dueling female and male vocals, each more dulcet and serene than the last. They sing over upbeat pop-house beats. The refrain echoes, “when and where did we go cold, I thought I had you on hold.” This track is contemplative, reflective, and beautiful, as is the whole album. The lingering romantic vibe, sympathetic and heartfelt lyrics, and swooning vocals all blend perfectly into a magical, enthralling musical compilation. Each of the ten tracks on the release is a gift to your ears. Now their third studio album, I See You just came out earlier this month, and already it’s the soundtrack to every train ride spent staring at the sublime landscape pass by type moment that you’ve ever had.
The xx is perhaps most talented at combining their signature enthralling, hypnotic vocals with swelling, bouncing, mellow back beats. While two vocalists, Romy Madley Croft and Oliver Sims, in a band or music group can often get stagy and theatrics, The xx avoids this with aplomb. Both vocalists contribute evenly beneficially to each track. This indie-pop British group is essentially defining the genre with this album. Perhaps it is the album’s tangible intimacy that makes it so appealing. Take for example the track ‘Brave for You’. Romy sings in delicate, halting lyrics, “When things don’t make sense, I have courage because of you, and when I’m scared, I imagine you there, telling me to be brave, so I will be brave for you.”
There is something so piercingly relatable to The xx’s music. It is so simultaneously so original and familiar, chilling and comforting all at once. ‘A Violent Noise’ is equally beautiful and tessellating, this time featuring the strum-like vocal arrangement of Oliver Sims. He sings, “with every other kiss from a friend, with everything I pretend not to feel, am I too high? Am I too proud? Is the music too loud for me to hear?” before eventually Romy rejoins in perfect harmony with the powerful line, “I hope you’ll silence the noise.” Keep in mind this is all taking place over beautiful original melodies. But don’t take my word for it, pop on those headphones, hit shuffle and let I See You seep in.
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