in Review

The xx – Coexist

I don’t know what I can say about The xx except that they seem to have figured out how to hit exactly the frequencies that resonate in my brain. Their mellow, barren sound is one I know simply will not be appealing to some people, especially since I feel like they gone even more minimal since their somewhat self-titled debut. This approach seems like it would leave listeners desperate for more, but, and again I don’t really know why, it works for me.

You could probably guess it without paying attention to the lyrics, but this is an album about heartbreak. Like a lot of great music, Coexist is a chronicle of a relationship, although it sounds like this one won’t work out. Romy Madley Croft and Oliver Sim share vocal duties and they play off each other really well, if you’re into this sort of thing. In the post-Adele world, I hope people have an open mind about listening to young British kids with nice voices waxing romantic.

The rest of what you’ll hear is hard to write about. Silence, or at least quiet, is an instrument on Coexist. Everything echoes and pulsates, oftentimes you will only hear one instrument at a time. This lends an intense fragility to the entire record, like a candle flickering in the darkness. And now that I have written that lame simile, this paragraph is over.

On the one hand, what The xx have done here is continue to develop their sound, one that somehow found the cracks in my ears and filled them. On the other, they’ve made an album that’s even less poppy and accessible than the last. It’s damn near spartan. Try it out, maybe it will work out for you. Maybe it won’t. But if it does, you’re going to wonder how you lived without these kids before.

Favorite Tracks: “Angels,” “Chained,” “Missing”