The xx - Coexist
Creating a signature sound is a challenge. It's no wonder that most bands tend to be a pastiche of their influences. It's only human because there is a difficulty in isolating inspirations from individuality. Hearing an xx song, there is an instant recognition. From radio stations to sports adverts – even part time music heads register their specific sound, despite not knowing them by name. Stripped back elemental music that prizes space above clutter. Who thought that in this all consuming, post electronic music world, they'd made a masterpiece on their debut with very little to show for it on tab? The question perched on lips is if Coexist can match up to their Mercury Prize winning introduction of their debut.
'Angels', the first single and track from Coexist; with its childishly poignant lyrics, is surely indicative of the right return. They have stayed within the strict sound boundaries they created just 2 years ago. So, it isn't a bold, self-indulgent split from their previous success. They aren't shy of what they achieved. Though their life is untypical, they're still the same people in some respect so Coexist doesn't expound a new sense of personhood.
So what's instantly recognisable is their demureness and subtly. They bumped the status quo of figuring artists as emphatically passionate people, decorated like glam rockers or dirty, dishevelled punks. When Sim sings "why do I refuse you/coz if my feeling's right/I risk to lose you" - words that couldn't possibly be repeated in a pub on match day, they're surprisingly able to connect with people above the teenage love-strung demographic, in such a simple way.
Madley-Croft sings, "Did I hold you too tight?/Did I not let enough light in?," on 'Chained'. Though they prize uniformity in dress and sound, the fundamental excellence of The xx is in their differences. Her light, immature singing, entwines so perfectly with Sim's settling baritone on this track; Jamie xx's (as he has come to be known) ever-intuitive production folds their piece neatly together like a straight-edged, non-creased origami shape.
With all this neatness and continuity, the most noticeable inclusion is the unabashed influence of dance music. The pulsing pace of 'Swept Away', the effervescent steel pan on 'Reunion'; adding these factors surely marks a steady diversion from their debut but in some sense a limited one. Dance music is exciting because it doesn't care for space; it's a 'filled to the brim' concept. So attempting to emulate this sound but imbedded in fundamental space, occasionally falls on a dull, flat note, which makes the latter part of the album indecipherable.
But their ever-present success lies in their delicate R&B trajectory. Like Florence's 'Spectrum', Calvin Harris could probably twist 'Sunset' into some 90s R&B disco sound a like. On 'Missing', the band is probably one extra loop from recreating Teddy Riley's New Jack Swing sound. However, 'Try' is the most exciting venture on Coexist, perhaps even to date. Starting with an eerie loop that props up and down throughout the song, you can imagine how it must have sounded at first conception: fairly busy like a modern day R&B song, they then ripped off the flesh and presented a skeleton, that's still full of character.
On Coexist The xx have proved that they will not meet the same fate of releasing one great album, then dying out. The album is a testament to what makes them great artists: the ability to take influences and mix in some of their own original thought to create that signature sound. They've also remained inspired, and though part of the album is unable to keep up, Coexist speaks and sings in swathes of brilliance.
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Creating a signature sound is a challenge. It's no wonder that most bands tend to be a pastiche of their influences. It's only human because there is a difficulty in isolating inspirations from individuality. Hearing an xx song, there is an instant recognition. From radio stations to sports adverts – even part time music heads register their specific sound, despite not knowing them by name. [read more]
Label: White Label Music Release date: 01/11/10 Link: Official Site Buy Amazon The Horn The Hunt are better known as Clare Carter and Joseph Osborne, an electro pop duo located in Leeds. Raptor is the latest single, a prelude to their second album due to be released sometime in 2011 and is a well-crafted arrangement that twists and turns to create a funky haze of samples and loops. Driven forward by pounding, foot-tapping bass and wailing synths, Raptor is a poppier take on the burgeoni... [read more]
Label: True Panther Sounds Release date: 08/03/10 Website: http://www.myspace.com/tanlinestheband Brooklyn production duo Tanlines have promised that their sound will be âcalypso disco electro music for various kinds of sexâ. How will âSettingsâ, their debut release, make good on this promise? With the duo involved in a variety of acts such as Professor Murder, Brothers and Don Caballero and having supported everyone from The XX to Micachu and the Shapes via Crystal Fighters, th... [read more]
Last week's battle saw Oh No Ono come out victorious by a clear margin achieving as they did 45% of the vote leaving Ash lingering in second with 30%. For me, it was a bit of a surprise to see Beach House pick up only 12% of the ballot. Anyway, another Monday, another shortlist of tracks for you to pick through and vote on who deserves to be this week's Single Of The Week... The XX - 'VCR' Broken Bells - 'High Road' Editors - 'You Don't Know Love' ... [read more]
Yes, it's Monday, which can mean only one thing... a desperate return to the working week following a couple of days of excesses... hmmm Well to help you forget all that, take a quick flick through these videos below which make up the shortlist for this week's 'Single of the Week'... The Nominations... Bloc Party - One More Chance Miike Snow - Animals Calvin Harris - Ready For The Weekend The XX - Basic Space The Lovvers - The OCD Go Go Girls The Answering ... [read more]