I never saw the xx as a project with much of a shelf life. While their self-titled debut was rather good, it didn’t seem like they could really try much else in musical terms.
The xx were formed in London in 2005, and are comprised of vocalists and guitarists Romy Madley Croft and Oliver Sim, and production is handled by Jamie “xx” Smith.
While Coexist seemed like a natural albeit flawed progression from their debut, I See You feels slightly forced. The minimalistic, washed out electronic sounds worked in the band’s favour previously, but the more UK garage trappings of especially the front end of this effort seem to be at war with the vocalists. The duo are known to give soft and nuanced performances, and the production on this album really doesn’t complement their voices, especially on the track “Dangerous”, where they are almost drowned out. I was almost offended by the song “On Hold”, which features a shockingly bad Daft Punk style droning chorus, which makes this track really stick out like a sore thumb in the record.
There are more atmospheric and quieter cuts also, the string orchestration working in the band’s favour, making “Performance” one of the highlights on the album, mostly because Jamie xx left most of it alone.
This album completely failed to win me over, but I feel in the minority on this one, as it seems to be quite well received across the board.