Album Review: “Coexist” The xx
- for fans of
- Bon Iver; Lykke Li
- singles to download
- ‘Unfold,’ ‘Sunset,’ ‘Angels’
When The xx, a British trio comprised of Romy Madley Croft, Oliver Sim and Jamie xx, debuted its first album, it captured the modern state of heartbreak so incredibly that the trio became instant members of the indie canon. Not everyone was a fan, but The xx seems to have doubled down on the criticism being “too quiet” of a band as very little has changed from its 2009 debut. Even the album art is just a different version of the “X” from their debut. The most surprising thing about the album is that it has a song longer than three minutes.
The familiar notes of heartbreak, along with Jamie xx’s signature production that utilizes white noise and pulsating beats, are still there. He even throws in a steel drum, an instrument that he used so memorably in his production of Drake’s smash hit “Take Care.”
The band seems more together on this album, cleverly titled “Coexist,” than ever. While its first album was about the arrival of a completely new sound, it has refined and harmonized each song to accentuate not only the brilliant production, but the vocals and songwriting as well.
While “Coexist” is the type of album that should be digested as a whole (or really, it should digest you)—as the songs complement each other more than in most contemporary music—there are still a few standouts. Lead single and album opener “Angels” is sung almost completely by Croft, but she imbues each refrain of “being as in love with you as I am” with so much longing that it is hard to argue against that decision.
“Sunset” is a poignant meditation on seeing someone you used to love, with the production showcasing the delicate duet between Croft and Sim. The songwriting here is among the best the group has ever done.
But the most heartbreaking (and who does heartbreak better than The xx?) is “Unfold,” which can leave even the most upbeat listener in a state of perpetual depression. The production of the song uses echoes and near-silence to envelop the listeners in an ocean of melancholy as they slowly realize that the broken relationship may have been completely imagined by the singer.
Perhaps on its next album, The xx will explore new sounds. I am perfectly content with it simply putting new spins on its familiar brilliance, and “Coexist” is a sublime example of that brilliance.