The xx have always been defined by their minimalism, awkwardness and introverted sound despite packing so much emotion and drama into their lyrics. Their self-titled debut was an embodiment of these qualities. However, in 2012 The xx released their sophomore, ‘Coexist’ which showed signs of a new found confidence but by no means were ready for the spotlight.
Now five years down the line, after Jamie xx kick-started his solo career with the outstanding ‘In Colour’ in 2015. The xx have released their third studio album, ‘I See You’. I See You still holds the classic The xx sound but has brought a newfound warmth to the table with more energy and more upbeat tracks. this is less surprising when you look at Jamie’s solo album.
You can feel the renewed energy from the first note, ‘Dangerous’, the album opener really kicks the album off with a bang, the synthetic trumpets blaring out which transfers into a groovy beat in which Romy and Oli harmonise over. The upbeat vibrancy is something which is held at the heart of ‘I See You’. ‘Say Something Loving’ is refreshing, this was the second teaser single released by the London trio and gave fans a flavour of what they were to expect from The xx this time around.
‘Lips’ and ‘A Violent Noise’ start to slow down the pace which leads perfectly to cue the ballad, ‘Performance’, Romy is accompanied by a standalone guitar and haunting violins, this is one of the best moments of ‘I See You’ and is reminiscent of the previous The xx albums.
‘Replica’, a glossy track, about lack of identity as Oli comments on how late night drinking leads to people becoming someone they’re not. Romy strips back the facades through the breathtakingly honest, ‘Brave For You’, in which she sings about her deceased parents and how performing on stage is her way to embrace her fears.
‘On Hold’, the lead single of the album, yet again sees Romy and Oli as lead vocalists team up again, creating a conversational feel within this track, come Summer at the festivals, this track will be massive. The xx again, come through with a brutally honest ballad, ‘Test Me’, it exposes the cracks in the groups relationship which formed in recent years.
The xx have not just created an album, but have created a brutally honest and personal collection of tracks. They have experimented and broken out of their awkward shells but there’s still moments of the old The xx but they have found the best balance between old and new.
The xx have never been so unguarded with their emotions and this makes ‘I See You’, an album of realisation. Jamie, Romy and Oli have expanded their minimalistic and introverted sound and have created something so much bigger, they are now headed in a new direction fuelled by the energy and honesty this album holds. It’s truly infectious.
The xx will now embark on their first tour in over 2 years, starting in Europe before returning to the UK in March, to play dates in Nottingham, Manchester, Cardiff and then will have a 7 days residency to a sold out O2 Academy Brixton in London.