• Matthew Thomas

I See You - The XX


For a band that is usually described as abstract and minimal, there is an unquestionable amount of emotion and drama packed into the new release, especially considering the tracks on previous albums posses an introverted and unassuming feeling, leaving it hard to trace the true meaning of the songs. The trio’s seductive sound has been reinvigorated in this glorious comeback, on the first two xx albums, 2009's xx and 2012's Coexist, we were treated to reverb guitars and heavily dubbed bass lines which were organised in a way that highlighted the band's preferred a ‘less is more' effect. The bands producer Jamie Smith express his technical prowess as he really up’s his game on ‘I See You’ revealing more expansive sounds that incorporate disco throb and atmospheric drum fills into 39 minutes of evocative tracks.

As previously heard on both albums, the vocals are intense, delicate and provocative. However, this record is different, listeners are allowed inside the trio’s band this time, with high-velocity crescendos and funk grooves taking a prominent place on the album. The euphoric rhythm of ‘Dangerous’ signals a fresh, innovative start to the record whilst the vocal interchange of Romy Croft and Oliver Sim is as provocative and delicate as ever on ‘Say Something Loving’, ‘Replica’ and ‘I Dare You’. We are still treated to the music in a way that makes us feel as though we shouldn't be listening, loaded with drama and suspense; the popular, upbeat single ‘On Hold’ taking listeners on a defiant break-up journey with its perturbed lyrics. Similarly, ‘Say Something Loving’ shows the depiction of a relationship in crisis against a lovely, smooth, rolling rhythm track and like the rest of ‘I See You’, it really works. Personal standout tracks definitely have to be ‘Dangerous’ and ‘Performance’, on the later, Croft croons about having to imagine an entirely different persona for herself, due to the reality of heartbreak becoming too brutal. It's ironic, though, because the xx have never been so unguarded before, either emotionally or in their musical ambitions. Leaving ‘I See You’ the xx’s most impressionable album to date.

Fans have had to wait many years, however the highly anticipated album boasts an excellent progression from previous projects. Although the production of the album has took a lengthy 5 years, it feels as though the trio have placed everything into the album, leaving listeners emotionally tired and flicking back through the tracks to find the one that caught them the most. 2017 has already found one of its contenders for album of the year, although we are in January, this record will take some beating. It’s fair to say it was well worth the wait.

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