The first review! What will be a recurring feature on the blog I thought the new record from The XX would be a great place to start.
I See You is the third full length album from the English indie three piece. This also marks their third record to be released through London based indie label, Young Turks (FKA Twigs, Sampha). I loved the 2009 self titled debut from The XX and it received massive critical acclaim. The album sold over one million copies, bagged a Mercury award and won best British/Irish album of the year. Their beautifully stripped back and subtle sound was enjoyed all round.
2012 brought us Coexist which was still widely appreciated but a little bit just ‘more of the same’ for me. It certainly had its moments and was still a solid release but I thought if they were to put another album out just as similar, they would be exhausting what made them unique. Between Coexist and I See You, Jamie xx put out his solo effort ‘In Colour’. This album was a brilliant work of electronic music with heavy influence from garage and UK bass. It’s been more than four years since we had new music from The xx. And as soon as the trumpets began followed by a silky smooth danceable beat, i knew we were in for something special.
When Jamie xx said that his solo effort “has definitely informed what we’re doing for the next album” he wasn’t lying. This is a gorgeous mix between the much more uptempo work of Jamie xx and the minimalist, cool style that we’re familiar with from The XX. This was definitely the slight change of sound that I felt was missing from their previous attempt. The band have undoubtedly evolved, but they’ve done it without losing the sound which made them so identifiable. The vocal performance is generally great on this project, neither Romy Madley Croft or Oliver Sim have outstanding voices but they work with what they’ve got and it works. Mainly through taking turns giving each vocalist a moment in the limelight, and plenty of gorgeous harmonies churning out simple, but memorable, hooks.
Replica was a standout track for me, the chorus reminds me of something The Cure would have released around the Disintegration era. I think the dual vocals work particularly well on the slower tracks on the album. Jamie xx’s production is a standout for me, you can hear every beautiful layer on this track and the synths are warm and welcoming.
The album clocks in at a comfortable 39 minutes and is definitely the best thing they’ve released since their debut. The album is still very fresh and I’m looking forward to see if it stands the test of time.
As a bit of a side note, I’m a massive supporter of physical copies of music and am a avid record collector. At the minute there are copies of this album available on clear vinyl (pictured below) available at independent record stores. If you enjoyed this album, pick it up! You are supporting artists that you love and you are supporting your local music scene.
What did you think of the album? Get in touch and let me know!
First Hurdle Music.