The xx – xx The xx – xx

The xx - xx

The xx - xx

The brilliant and unassuming quartet of the xx are, if you haven’t already gathered, headed for big things. This, their dark and brooding debut album, refreshingly showcases a new young band which aren’t riding on any particular wave of media attention, and haven’t gained their hype via any kind of petulant rock-star controversy. There’s no one song that audiences are going to switch off after hearing, xx can be enjoyed in entirety or simply a track at a time. Good old fashioned word of mouth and an extremely strong and cohesive debut album can still be all that’s needed, thank god.

The vocal interplay between Romy Madley Croft and bass player Oliver Sim are the main stars of the show here, the former providing xx with a beautifully dark aurora, the latter contrasting at times bluntly, but ultimately suiting the sound of xx. Indeed without what may be argued as a less impressive vocalist, xx would probably not sound as dark or as interesting. On “Basic Space” for example, Sim’s seemingly uninterested vocal manages to win the listener around when coupled with Croft’s mournful lament.

But it isn’t just male/female vocal interactions that make xx a great debut. Rather than rush to impress listeners with songs packed with keyboard effects and over the top synths, the production that has gone into xx is such that the empty spaces haven’t been needlessly crammed with barely discernable instrumentation. On charming opener “VCR”, for example, a very Interpol sounding guitar line is joined with quaint sounding xylophone keys to great effect. It’s a similar story with the emotionally charged “Heart Skipped A Beat”, guitar and sparse drumming are all that’s needed to create a bleak yet impressive backdrop.

It is, also, a great album. It doesn’t matter that most of the songs are kindve about sex and stuff, some of the hooks and melodies created here with what sounds like little effort are incredibly impressive for a fresh faced indie band. The depressed indie funk of “Islands” and slow burning ballad of “Stars” hint at an unexpected depth for four bright eyed indie musicians suddenly in the spotlight.

Xx is a wonderfully bleak debut album, and it’s refreshing that a brand new indie band can release such a confident and unpretentious record and gain due credit. It’s a heavy listen, but one that you’ll keep coming back to.

Track List:
1. Intro
2. VCR
3. Crystalised
4. Islands
5. Heart Skipped A Beat
6. Fantasy
7. Shelter
8. Basic Space
9. Infinity
10. Night Time
11. Stars

The xx - xx, reviewed by Lemon on 2009-09-29T10:02:49-07:00 rating 4.3 out of 5

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