Monday, 4 February 2013

The XX- Coexist

Last year British electronic group The XX released one of the albums of the year in Coexist, it saw them reach a wider audience and their upcoming tour of Australia is completely sold out. Electronic music is a style where I feel out of my depth, I'm attracted to it because often it has a mellow soulful groove to it. It's a style that has continued to evolve it's incorporated elements of house music, dub step and soul and has then added syncopated grooves and dense atmospherics.

The xx formed in 2008, most of the members of the band had gone to school together, they released their self titled debut in 2009 which garnered critical acclaim and strong sales especially in the U.K For their follow up the band tried for a more personal songwriting approach driven by main songwriters Romy Madly Croft and bassist Oliver Sim with other member Jamie Smith contributing musical ideas.

Coexist has the feeling of being an album that is sparse but at the same time brings a sound that envelopes the listener, it's an album that's deeply personal, Angels depicts the intensity of love and the heartbreak that often comes with it, Crofts vocals are beautifully vulnerable.

And with words unspoken,
A silent devotion,
I know you know what I mean
And the end is unknown
But I think I'm ready
As long as you're with me.

Chained features vocal interplay between Sim and Croft a palpitating beat that cuts and moves in another tale of love hanging by a thread, the lyrics clouded in obscurity, a story not quite told but the meaning still discernible.

Separate or combine
I ask you
One last time
Did I hold you to tight
Did I not let in enough light

Try exposes the tension of love and the games people play, the melody is sparse, percussive slaps add to the drama, the group have a knack of building on the emotional intensity of their lyrics by creating a sound that's like a wave crashing, but ever so slowly. Sunset has a disjointed feel musically, minimalist and floating, the calla and response of the vocals creates a tension as what once was between two people has now faded like a sunset.

I like this album because it's challenging, certainly in a musical sense because it's melody and structure is different, everything sounds dislodged but the groove is always there and too me that is the vital element of music. I like the ambiguity of the lyrics, you can hear the tension and the heartbreak but it's obscured and that is a difficult art to master in writing songs.

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