When The XX arrived on the scene in 2009 with their self titled debut album; their distinct, minimal, moody guitar sound gained the band wide spread acclaim. Second album Coexist brought more of the same and was equally well received. Following Jamie XX’s excellent solo album, the band is back with their first new album in nearly five years.
Perhaps because of the success of the Jamie XX album, I See You brings many of the band’s more dance oriented elements for the fore. The horn stabs and rumbling bass of “Dangerous” starts off the album with a statement of intent, to get the listener moving… or at least bobbing their heads. “Say Something” has a contemporary London R and B sound with emotional lyrics similar to Jesse Ware. The track starts off stating that the feeling of love has escaped before revealing at the end that “the thrill of affection is only getting stronger”. “A Violent Noise” sets out singer Oliver Sim down a lost and confused path but he is comforted by bassist Romy Madley Croft expressing concern for her friend and bandmate’s well-being.
The latter half of I See You features “On Hold” which may be the biggest song of their career. The Hall and Oates sampling track will surely be given the remix treatment over and over again as Romy sings about the stars in the sky. This will definitely be one of the songs of the year at festivals around the globe. The minimal melodic beauty of “I Dare You” follows and is hard to resist. Romy and Sim’s vocals blend together better here than anywhere else in the band’s catalogue as the simple guitar line is like ear candy.
As good and distinct as the first two albums were, the band practically created their own genre, allowing more electronic elements into their sound has taken The XX to another level. Having recently appeared on Saturday Night Live, audiences should expect the band to be everywhere in 2017.