I fell for The XX a long time ago.
It was a summer night, quite late. I was driving somewhere I can’t remember right now. The stereo of my car was spitting bits of ‘Crystalised’ and I didn’t know much of these three Londoners. I couldn’t imagine, back then, their self-titled debut album would have become such a seminal record for the indie scene in London and pretty much everywhere else.
It took me some time to learn how to approach The XX and their unique talent. ‘I See You’ was announced at the end of a quite long hiatus, five years after ‘Coexist’, the band’s second studio album. In between, million of records sold, silence and Jamie XX completing himself as an artist, programmer, and producer, on a new and fascinating path of his career.
‘I See You’ is a sort of homecoming, and it sounds like we never said goodbye. Madley Croft and Oliver Sim are still silently conversing, speaking the language of delicate guitar riffs. Jamie is nearby, focused on the perfect beats to fit into 11 new pieces of art. Some elements – peculiar to this LP – emerge quite clearly with the opening track ‘Dangerous’, as well as on ‘Say Something Loving’, one of the first singles released by the band. There’s everything you might want out of an XX album: cryptic lyrics, a clear set of riffs and mind-blowing chord progressions. There’s Jamie XX too, and this is what breaks the rules. His touch is unmistakable. ‘I See You’ ends up encompassing a full heritage of talents, where all its beauty is hidden.
The uncertainty of love is the common ground of a sort of concept album which moves through the beauty of numbers like ‘Lips’, ‘A Violent Noise’, ‘Replica. ‘On Hold’, the first single, is perhaps the less impacting moment of the entire record. A fairly bright portrait of disenchantment, an exception in a scenario of uncertainty and – sometimes – hopelessness, the song fits within the frame, however. ‘Performance’ and ‘Brave For You’, otherwise, sound like the perfect XX songs, filled with Madly’s reverbs and ethereal choruses.
Did we need a new The XX? Yes, we did. And thankfully, this record came out full of intricacies and complications. I was concerned, fearing a new Jamie XX-ish album. I have been hit by a full new set emotions, which make this record truly beautiful.
Young Trucks Recordings | 2017
Tracklist & Stream