Spring is here and you can skip into the sun to the tune of the xx.
If you’ve heard Angels and Chained, then you’ll know the British band have maintained their signature minimalistic sound in Coexist. The instrumentals reverberate in familiar guitar rhythms, gentle bass beats and mellow piano melodies. Every track creates a raw atmosphere of underproduction and infinitesimal mastering. It all adds to the every developing photo of the xx as an indie-pop group that uses a marginal amount of noise to produce big music.
Coexist feels like an incomplete album. If a record can be described as a house, then the xx have designed a home that is silent and delicate. Occasionally a guitar chord will colour the walls with a streak of vibrance, and a piano tune might create movement on a TV screen, while voices croon to fill the vacuum. The brilliance lies in the fact that this is not a negative, instead it is a development of something only the xx can successfully produce. At times you may want more, but on those rare occasions when more is given (such as the movement in “Missing” from the languid, bare bass synth to the urgent climactical piano phrase) it is a terrific shock.
Lyrically, Coexist carries the strain of broken love. The tracks are filled with yearning and an essence of loss. “Sunset” details the aftermath of an unwanted break-up, while “Fiction” tells the story of a sexual tryst that can never become real love. In some ways, this is one of the faults of the album. The sound is so minimalistic, that it creates a craving in itself. Listening to lyrics which evoke longing is almost too much, especially as the theme is carried in every track and in the tone of each vocal. The xx may centre their music around ideas of love, but at times it can be tiresome to listen to a call for romance in each song.
Overall, the album is another success to add to the xx’s achievements. Although it’s not as brilliant as their debut, it still carries a couple of gems.
Highlights: Chained, Angels, Fiction, Missing, Sunset.
Lowlights: Our Song, Reunion, Unfold.