The xx – I See You
Release: 13th January 2017
Label: Young Turks
Producers: Jamie xx, Rodaidh McDonald
Singles: On Hold, Say Something Loving
Platform reviewed: Vinyl
The xx, a once four-piece, now three-piece group from London, are finally back. Having kept up the tradition of pauses between albums, Jamie, Oliver, and Romy, have made us wait even longer for their third studio album I See You. As an unconvinced listener, with the band’s lustrous breathy minimalism doing nothing for me besides indifference, the album’s lead single was a world away from the sound I expected from The xx, but would the full length LP follow in suite.
I See You kicks off proceedings with punchy horns and breakbeat-esque percussion found on Dangerous, then moves into sombre melancholy with Say Something Loving. The latter of which featuring samples, something previously vowed by Romy to never be part of The xx’s sound. Again on the latter, Oliver and Romy’s vocal performances are more coherent and in sync than they’ve ever been. For perhaps the first time, the duo’s chemistry is the most potent element of the song.
The vocal performances across the album feel a world away from the stop/start ache of the group’s last two albums, and with that the production follows. Jamie xx clearly has more of an influence on the album’s direction, especially following the success of his debut album. Replica, On Hold, Lips, Dangerous, The xx are clearly channeling much more of an upbeat and substantial sound, trading lustrous murmurs for horns, scarce percussion for punchy claps, and dry competitive rasps for eloquent harmonising.
The xx’s sound has evolved so much in five years, and now offers so much more likeable qualities, no more epitomised by two of the album’s best songs Replica and Performance. In one moment jaunty and mellowed, in the other mesmerisingly open and wounded. What makes I See You as memorable as it is, is that the chemistry of the band now shines through the project more than ever, with the trio feeling more of an encompassed act. Even the elusively shy figure of Jamie xx chimes in with some backing vocals on a couple of tracks. I See You is an accomplished project, one that shows an entirely new side of The xx, through simply taking their sound that step further.
Verdict – WWWW