Lila Miller, A&E Editor
London trio The xx is no stranger to critical acclaim. The xx have been performing as a band since 2005 and have seen several member changes during that time. The band currently features Romy Madley Croft on guitar and vocals, Oliver Sim on bass and vocals and Jamie xx taking the lead on beats, music production controller (MPC) and production.
“I See You” is the band’s third album release and marks a turn in direction. Previous albums “xx” (2009) and “Co- exist” (2012) relied heavily on the band’s signature sound of stripped down piano and guitar melodies with haunting lyrics. The album is available at local record stores, on iTunes, Spotify, and on their website shop.thexx.info.
“I See You” incorporates a lot more of Jamie xx’s more club-inspired aesthetic. The album itself still retains some xx mainstays such as emotional lyrics and ideas like the struggle to be vulnerable, the idea of identity and intimate relationships.
Occasionally, when bands deviate from their traditional sound, the cohesive flow of the subsequent album can be compromised. With The xx, this is not the case. From the album’s opener, “Dangerous,” featuring a striking introduction of horns, to the danceable “On Hold,” the new album allows their story to develop organically from start to finish.
The second track “Say Something Loving” explores the idea of intimacy and the trepidation of entering a relationship in an increasingly closed-off society. The song starts wistfully, “Say something loving/ I just don’t remember the thrill of affection/…I need a reminder, the feeling’s escaped me” reminiscent of a time where love was a staple in life.
The lyrics go on to entail how vulnerable it is to actively look for love and risk letting someone in for fear of rejection, “Here come my insecurities/ I almost expect you to leave/…I wasn’t patient to meet you/ Am I too needy, am I too eager?”
In the middle of the album, “Brave For You” confronts Croft’s death of her parents and serves as tribute but can also relate to anyone who has someone believing in them more than they believe in themselves.
The second to last track, “I Dare You,” deals with familiar topics that leaves listeners nostalgic for their previous albums. The song focuses on the intensity of love and romantic relationships as if they are the only things worth living for. However, there are also hints that Croft and Sim are more enamored with the idea of being in love rather than an actual person while they sing. “I’m in love with it/ Intoxicated/ I’m enraptured… I’ve been a romantic for so long/ All I’ve ever had are love songs.”
The closer of “I See You”reflects on The xx’s members strained relationships with each other both geographically and emotionally. Although at times volatile, the song resulted in a happy reunion between Sim and Croft as the last lyrics reveal, “I’ll take it out on you/ It’s easier than talking it through/ Test me, see if I stay/ How could I walk the other way?”
Overall, “I See You” is an amazing addition to the ever-growing stack of The xx’s albums and accolades. The xx hasn’t changed in being able to nail down deeper emotions like heartbreak, loss, love and relationships, but this time, you can dance to it.