Back in 2009 a small indie rock band from London called The xx, released a self-titled album that literally blew up overnight, receiving overwhelming critical praise. Now, having just released their second album Coexist, the band prepares to hit the road once again. The xx, which consists of Romy Madley-Croft on guitar and vocals, Oliver Sim on bass and vocals and Jamie Smith on drums, keys, and production, immediately had their profile raised after the public welcomed their sound with open arms. Their debut, xx, had such a stripped down, minimal vibe it felt immediately intimate as a listener. It was as if you were in the studio with them recording each track. There was also something so honest about the lyrics, how they hit just right and embodied that gut wrenching feeling of love on the rocks. And yet none of that would feel the same if it had not been for the atmosphere that was created around those words. Madley-Crofts clean, reverb-soaked guitar lines that were so smooth and pretty they could act as voices themselves backed by Sim’s lower than low bass. And not enough can be said of Jamie Smith’s production, which provides the perfect backbone of percussion, knowing when to bow out of the mix or provide just the right push. And lastly it was the blend of male/female vocals from Sim and Madley-Croft, respectively. Alone, they each have great voices but when they come together it’s like the first time you tried peanut butter and chocolate, amazing.
With so much hype behind their first album the build up for their second LP was immense. Coexist, takes the platform that the band built upon and strips it down even further. The biggest difference is that there aren’t as many songs on here that have the same drive as the first album but, that doesn’t make it less appealing. In fact it might make it even more, because as a listener you anticipate those moment when Jamie Smith will bring the beat in or when Medley-Croft will lay down a beautiful guitar melody. “Fiction”, is one of those songs that is so well crafted in it’s instrumentation build that as a listener your taken on this ride up and down. And when the song ends just where it began you feel ready.
Other standout tracks like “Try” and “Chained” feature the pair singing both together and separate, playing wonderfully to the roles of the lyrics. The songs still flow nicely into each other, take the excellent “Reunion” that gracefully works it’s way into “Sunset”. There lyrical content still plays favorably to the brokenhearted but, it feels more like the kind of music you would put on at three in the morning trying to get over someone rather than for a night out. Overall the album is a great sophomore follow up, but as a listener I’m left wanting more. I find myself listening to the album over and over trying to find something that I missed last time. A song like “Tides” teases giving you that full throttle band sound only sparsely throughout the song, cutting out just when you think it’s beginning to ride on. In the end what we’re hearing is the sound of a band still developing and when you look at it that way, the album’s great.
Their tour will kick off in Vancouver on October 5th and make it’s way down the West Coast of the U.S. before heading east. They will be at the House of Blues on October 25th for a sold out show but, don’t worry we’ve got some seats for you. Grab them and other North American tour dates right here.