The xx
Coexist

Written by Tom Williams

It is difficult to imagine the minimalistic indie-pop of London trio The xx becoming even more stripped-back and simplistic. Their 2009 debut was refreshing and unassuming – a charming and auspicious album with musical and emotional depth. Attempting to back up to such success was no doubt difficult, and Coexist highlights these difficulties. The young band’s sound has become more about what isn’t heard than what is. This allows for some particularly dark nuances in their tone, yet threatens to mask their music as experimentally ambient and therefore lacking in substance.

Introductory tracks Angels and Chained make Coexist seem promising. The former features some of the album’s most poignant lyrics: ‘They would be as in love with you as I am’, and the latter combines two-step rhythms with a typically cold guitar tone to help you get lost in the groove. Romy Madley Croft’s vocals are as graceful as ever, and it is clear even at this point that Coexist is darker and more intimate than the band’s debut. However, this is also where the album begins to feel slightly empty and monotonous.

Songs such as Fiction and Sunset appear to feature tones that are used and reused throughout most of the album. There is also a heavy reliance on the trials of love as lyrical material, which over the course of the album begins to feel heavy and self-centred. There is a notable honesty present, yet it does become slightly overbearing and melancholic.

Jamie ‘Jamie xx’ Smith breaks out the steel drums on Reunion, although they do feel somewhat misplaced amongst the ambience. Smith plays a larger role than he did in the band’s debut album, and his input is clearly influenced by the European club scene. This leads to some dark quasi-dance tracks, Swept Away being the strongest. The song is entrancing, and uses its dynamics well in order to create a sense of tension.

However, you can’t help but want to see The xx break this tension with a sudden crescendo or percussive freak-out. Their minimalism, as pretty and polished as it is, has been stripped back even further. Coexist thus lacks the melodic hooks seen in the band’s debut, and feels somewhat more shy and subdued. This in turn makes the album heavily reliant on the listener’s willingness to accept its overarching ambience.

Nonetheless, there has been some notable experimentation with structure and instrumentation. Although not terribly explicit, these quirks attempt to stop the album from feeling tedious by adding to its intricacies. These attempts are not always successful, however.

Coexist may leave some fans disillusioned. The xx had a lot to live up to, and they seem to have fallen short. Their sound is unique and distinct, yet is less inspiring than it once was. It is therefore debatable whether Coexist is an example of second album syndrome or simply a development in the band’s sound – the album could polarise their fan-base either way.

Join Music Feeds on Facebook

More On Music Feeds

News

Waka Flocka Flame Wants To Be President Of The United States

The competition just heated up for Hillary Clinton now that Waka Flocka Flame has made good on his 2012 promise and has (un)officially announced his candidacy to become the next President of the United States.

News

Django Django Tease January 2016 Australian Tour

UK indie darlings Django Django have teased plans to return to Australia for some shows around New Year’s Eve and early January 2016, perhaps in time for an appearance at some Aussie summer festivals.

News

Ed Sheeran Is Touring Australia Again In 2015

One mega Australian tour a year isn’t enough for UK troubadour Ed Sheeran, who has just gone ahead and announced another Australia tour for November and December 2015, playing dates in his biggest Australian venues so far.

Features

Ed Sheeran’s 10 Songs That Shaped & Defined Me

To celebrate Australia’s favourite ginger (sorry Prince Harry) announcing another national tour for the end of the year, Ed Sheeran has put together a playlist of ten tracks that helped make him the superstar musician he is today.

Features

The Coachella 2015 Honour Roll

It’s all over, folks.

News

Art Vs Science Share New Tune ‘In This Together’, Tease New Album & Tour

Art Vs Science have returned with the first taste of their as-yet-untitled new studio album.

Around the web

This May Also Interest You