‘I thought I had you On Hold.’ says Oliver Sim, melancholically. An example of the incredible songwriting in this record. The xx have been quiet since 2012’s Coexist, bar the album that Jamie (as Jamie xx) released in 2015. The xx are a London-based indie/synthpop band, creating solemn, sad beats which are beautiful, especially when you’re walking in the dark somewhere, it fits seamlessly.
So when I heard about a new release, I thought someone had cranked up the rumour mill. I have been following this release for a while now, so I was crossing my fingers twice hoping it was going to be good, if not absolutely groundbreaking. I loved both the debut ‘xx’ and the sophomore LP ‘Coexist’ as well as Jamie xx’s ‘In Colour’, and I wanted to love this, but entered it with a degree of trepidation, to see if they went all out and turned into, say, David Guetta or Calvin Harris.
The short answer is no. The long answer is below.
The album starts with the upbeat (in comparison to the others) ‘Dangerous’. It has a groovy touch, with incredible harmonies between Oliver Sim and Romy Madley Croft. It has a sample of some kind of brass instrument, probably a trumpet, which works incredibly. It sounds like a floor filler at a nightclub, and I have no doubt that is what it will be. The only problem is that it doesn’t sound like The xx we know and love.
But that problem is completely solved by the following tracks. In contrast with ‘Dangerous’, the rest of the songs sound like a different album. ‘Say Something Loving’ is sad and dreamy, so is ‘A Violent Noise’ and ‘Replica’. This sound is mastered by the group, and they do it so right. It’s completely different to other electronica, it’s not as loud as Skrillex, but not as quiet as Bon Iver’s folktronica masterclass ‘22, A Million’
This bimbles along until Track 8 and the lead single, ‘On Hold’. This track is incredible, the best The xx song ever. It describes someone not returning their calls. It has a subject, it addresses it well and it adds a catchy beat. What more could you ask for?
Track 9 ‘I Dare You’ is nothing special and nothing new from Jamie, Romy and Oliver. It’s fine.
So, we’re at the end of the album, with just Track 10 ‘Test Me’ to give a good impression on the whole. This song did not fail to deliver. The incredible thing about it was that it sounds more melancholic than anything else The xx have done. It is practically silent, in terms of beat and instrumental, could be a complete a cappella song. It sounds like it could go on forever.
So, that was my view of the album. What’s yours? Tweet me @distantpstmusic or E-Mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org. My favourite track: On Hold, but Dangerous is good too.
Have a great day, and see you on the next post.