Words by Lauren Gill

Moody. Dark. Sensual. Whisper-pop. These are all words that could be used to describe The xx. You might be familiar with their wildly popular 2009 self-titled debut that was highly touted among critics and fans alike as one of the best albums of the year and introduced the world to beatmaker extraordinaire, Jamie xx. With it, the British trio cemented themselves as one of the most talked about new bands, with each word of their angsty lyrics and each biting kick of the bass drum transforming them into a minimalist’s dream and teenage lovers’ soundtrack.

With their overwhelming success, though, came the inevitable question of what they would do for their follow-up. And on Coexist, The xx stuck exactly to what they knew best: songs about the trials of love over Jamie xx’s genius beats. Available now via Young Turks, Coexist manages to pump out tracks that are still hot and steamy, but refreshing enough to demonstrate their progress since The xx.

While their lyrics have never been “songwriter of the generation” material, Romy Madley Croft and Oliver Sim’s strong suit has been the passion that comes across in their voices. It is their ability to make the most trivial words sound like the most brilliant piece of lyricism that makes them so endearing. The two use their music as what could only be described as ‘couples therapy’, except for the fact that they aren’t quite a couple. On ‘Sunset’, easily one of the strongest tracks on the album, the classic call and response takes place until they finally sing together, “I always thought it was sad the way we act like strangers”.

A large portion of the reason why Croft and Sim can get away with such simplistic lyrics lies with Jamie Smith, better known nowadays as Jamie xx. While most follow the same vein, none of his complex beats are quite the same, and grow into something new over the course of a song. What might start off with a piano can transform into a funky bass line and snare taps, as so beautifully evidenced on ‘Swept Away’.

Jamie xx’s eclectic mix of sounds, ranging from steel drums (‘Reunion’) to a mandolin (‘Try’) to the most emotional guitar you’ve ever heard (‘Fiction’), provide a flawless backdrop for Croft and Sim to work out their seemingly endless list of issues.

It’s obvious that The xx know what they’re good at, and the recurrence of themes of love and love not really working out, all the while over a sexy beat have come to be their trademark sound.

The xx
Young Turks
© September 11th, 2012



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