Five years after the release of their 2012 album, Coexist, London based trio The xx have finally released their highly anticipated third album, I See You. Although it appears to have been a period of silence for the band’s ventures, the members have used this brief hiatus to flourish in their individual ventures, with Jamie Smith’s solo music becoming highly prominent and internationally acclaimed. Jamie xx’s solo album, In Colour, has clearly infiltrated the band’s new compositions; I See You incorporates far more electronic instrumentation than previous albums. However, this new electronic element of the band’s sound does not obscure the band’s distinctive and established sound. I See You is a record that is simultaneously incredibly characteristic of what all fans have grown to expect from the xx but still refreshingly new and exciting.
Everything about the album is expected but still different. The album artwork features the iconic giant X across a plain background like previous albums. However this time the physical album cover is a shiny metallic mirror that reflects its listeners face back to them. The band has reflected their album title in its physical copies creating an exciting subversion of their traditional artwork.
The album begins with one of its best tracks, Dangerous. This is perhaps the best exemplification of the amalgamation of their traditional sound and their newer influences. The most prominent parts of the song are a pervading and catchy guitar riff, as in so many of the band’s most famous songs, surrounded by synthesised horn parts and an electronic drum beat.
I See You is defined by the intimate nature of Oliver Sim’s and Romy Madley Croft’s vocals. This is the defining feature of the album and the wonderful relationship between the two has never faltered during their many years together as a band. There is a beautiful, introverted element to their two voices that is slightly juxtaposed by the raw emotional honesty of the lyrics of this album. Tracks such as Performance are tranquil yet deeply sincere creating some of the most haunting songs that the band has ever written.
The xx have created another masterpiece that celebrates their originality. The effortless minimalism of their music remains so intriguing and iconic. There is no desire from fans for the band to alter their sound drastically between albums; The xx never fail to create unique and varied tracks whilst staying true to their expected sound.
(Photo Credit: www.thexx.info/home)