The xx | "Coexist"
How they do it is an enigma, but I’m not asking to be enlightened. It’s satisfying enough to bask in the pure, honed sound of The xx, who’ve put together another top-notch record to satiate our sentimental hearts. The xx is an English band consisting of Romy Madley Croft, Oliver Sim and Jamie Smith, but then again, the band whose debut album took a slew of prizes including the Mercury Music Prize needs no further introduction. It was their debut eponymous album that convinced me that magic can literally be conjured by a three-piece band.
It’s clear that Romy, Oliver and Jamie have nurtured a connection and a balance within the band despite each having dipped their feet in other musical efforts. The synthesis of their voices and instruments create a sound that is simple yet compelling, placing one into a comfortable sway, and it’s evident that they’ve got this seamless combination down to an art. Coexist, their long-awaited second album, is a delicate dream with a darker tinge of melancholia than the first. The signature reverbs, riffs and bass lines are there, and entwined with Romy and Oliver’s wistful vocals, the sensation produced is close to analgesia.
The title track, Angels, is a haiku-like love song that is made for repeated listening. Romy whispers “The end comes too soon / Like dreaming of angels / And leaving without them” and we’re reminded just how lulling her voice is. I imagine myself drifting very much throughout this album, as if I’m floating on some kind of diaphanous sea, partly due to the subtle sea imagery incorporated in tracks like Tides and Swept Away. Oliver joins in on the next track, Chained, a buoyant song that maintains a slight upbeat quality as it bleeds into the next two synth-heavy tracks, Fiction and Try. Sunset is the stuff of rapturous slumber, setting up the slow dance that leads into the second half of the album. Missing and Tides are floundering messages of yearning that express a simple desire to be missed, and to be held closer.
Desire, love and passion are what connect us to the music of The xx, and this coexisting quality of all our beating hearts could be what they want to show us. We all exist together, meandering on a drowsy sea, subject to temperaments and the striking pain of a broken heart. Romy explains: “I was reading up on oil and water – when you see a puddle on the floor and it’s a rainbow. Oil and water don’t mix, they agree to peacefully coexist. I really liked that – these two simple things, oil and water, that together make something beautiful.” And for the distilled concoction of realness and serene reflection that is Coexist, beauty sure is an understatement.
The Xx is currently gracing our October cover!
*Photographs courtesy of Warner Music Singapore
– Kelly Koo
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