For the past two and a half years, the faint lingering of the hooks and beats of The xx’s first & only album have gradually subsided into anticipation and the gentle drumming of fingertips & the tapping of feet until it’s hard to know where one ends and the other begins. What’s interesting about their hiatus is that unlike many bands who fail to deliver a set of fresh material this long after their debut, they have remained as relevant as when they first appeared on the radar.
The world has been extremely patient with the trio; still left bedazzled by their first efforts and careful not to rush them just incase they fall short of the mark they’ve set for themselves, but unsurprisingly due to their fairly shy & private face that we see, whether the pressure was too much to even consider putting out another album remained a mystery until very recently.
Much of the allure of The xx lie in their vows of silence that are only broken when their songs start playing, revealing a sincerity and deeper emotional resonance that is both contrasted and complimented by their more electronic and ambient influenced sound. Often you get the feeling that you’re infringing on something intimate and secret, a theme which they don’t seem to be abandoning any time soon with the new album being named Coexist which they have revealed is set to be be full of “sad love songs”.
New song ‘Strangers’ hears a build up to a more clubby beat, juxtaposing Romy’s crooning for an eery sense of abandonment, the kind of loneliness that you can only feel in the most crowded of places surrounded by unquantifiable numbers of people. This unusual and very rare ability to take something so overdone, like both lost love and electronica and create something so unique and comparatively three dimensional in the senses that it evokes are what sets them apart from any other band in recent times, and probably in the future after the colossal benchmark that they’ve raised for aspiring newcomers.
The relentlessly piercing resignation of the feeling of “being as in love with you as I am” resonates a hopelessness that again counteracted by the steady beats and major chords is haunting in it’s realism and transparency.
Things take a darker turn into the aptly named ‘Friction’ which showcases Oliver Sim’s hypnotising vocals and showcase the concept of “devastating” songs that can “have a whole room full of people dancing and having the best time ever”.
The last of the teasers we’ve been left with, ‘Closer’ showcases what The xx do best, cushioning the blow of heartache and reminiscence with music you can dance to, and the proof that these feelings are universal.
It may have felt like a lifetime but with only a couple more months to hold on until following a return to the UK with a headline slot at Bestival in September, our record players will be graced with Coexist and conclusive evidence that the midas touch isn’t a myth.
By Bella Roach
Dance Yrself Clean