Review: The XX – XX
03 Sep 09
The XX – XX
The XX have always had that buzz around them, of course coming from London and heralding a “New sound” that music journalists are always so keen on finding before dumping it a second later in search of a newer one has helped but, thankfully this isnt a throwaway over hyped release.
Granted opening up an album with a song called “Intro” doesn’t sound big or clever, but believe me it is. Rather than a filler track Intro serves up just what it promises an introduction to the XX, should you need one of course. The sparse guitars notes and the almost dubstep beats are joined by the ever soulful boy/girl harmonics of Oliver Sim & Romy Madley Croft respectively, succeed in creating beauty in the sparse musical landscape they often create amongst such accomplished songs.
None of this is to say that they create slow, mindless tunes. Believe me, this is pop music. But is the XX’s use of space distant notes that capture the imagination in a way that the thrashing of guitars never could. Each note feels like it was crafted with love and beauty, pulling influences from genre’s indie usually leaves alone (R&B) other than in the realms of midnight mix tapes, mash ups and of indeed, Hot Chip.
“Crystallized” (First single from the album) almost feels lesser compared to some of the other tracks on the album, until you return to it and it once again forces its genius over you and it all makes such perfect sense. “Islands” is a beautifully played out pop song, followed by the dark and soulful heart skipped a beat which takes an almost acoustic dance turn towards the end, building up minimal layer upon minimal layer. Highlight of the album “Shelter” opens with guitarists and co-lead singer Romy Madley Croft gentle cooing over a low key bass line and distant chords that feel a world away from the vocals before catching up with itself, building pace and drawing us ever further into this world the XX have created.
Granted towards the end of the album you feel like you’ve been over lushed, perhaps had too much of a good thing but that’s nothing to complain about. What the XX have done here is create an almost perfect debut album that unlike others you can mention in the same breath, they haven’t pigeoned themselves in. They could go anywhere they want from here. And I’m sure they will do, but for now. This will just have to do