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New Music: The xx

By Gurman Sahota, January 17 2017 —

After nearly five years since the release of their last album, the xx return with their third studio album I See You. The album is an ode to heartbreak, loss and surprising clarity. It’s a perfect foil to the endless onslaught of love songs as we approach Valentine’s Day. These are not love songs — they are remnants of a love lost but without the heavy burden of resentment. ENT_TheXX

Unlike their previous releases, the vocal talents of Romy Madley Croft and Oliver Sim are accentuated equally on the relatively short 10-track album. There is no distinct song that outshines another, nor is there the release of a climactic rise of instrumentals or vocals. Each song is laced with the soft echoes of sad indie-pop that the band grew into with their last album.

The album is the product of Madley Croft and Sim, as they take on-stage haughty, heated and heavy chemistry and channel it into an album.

The anthemic “Dangerous” boasts thrilling lyrics like “If this only ends in tears / Then I won’t say goodbye ‘cause I couldn’t / ‘Cause I couldn’t care less,” alluding to the dangers of a relationship with an imminent expiry date. It’s also danceable, with the background music echoing hints of ‘90s pop.

“On Hold” is the most upbeat song on the album, lulling the listener instrumentally into a false sense of security as if the entire album wasn’t an attempt to make sense in the ruins of love.

“I Dare You” is infectious from its opening as Sim starts the song and Madley Croft punctuates the track. A light song, it brings the nostalgia of the beginning of a relationship that eventually is frought with idealism. With lyrics such as “I’ve been a romantic for so long / All I’ve had are love songs,” it’s difficult not to hum along with the song.

The second track on the album “Say Something Loving” could be its best. The band sings to the thoughts we think when we perform a post mortem on a dead relationship. If your heart is tender, be careful of this track.

No one song is indulgent and the album showcases the skill the xx possess in quietly directing your attention in a near surgical way of making you feel what they’re feeling. The band doesn’t carry a vast vocal range but they don’t need to — the purpose of the album is complete with the melancholy in their voices.

Heartbreaking yet healing, the band relies on simple acoustics and the occasional electronic beat to highlight the lyrics. I See You is the love letter we’d all like to write and burn at the end of the cathartic experience, never departing from its source.

If you’re healing, hurting or sick of hearing sugary sweet love songs, I See You will cut through the diabetes and still deliver some serious feels.


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