The XX-I See You
The London trio have not disappointed with their new album. After teasing fans with the release of two singles, ‘On Hold’ and ‘Say something loving’, the album was finally released January 13th. I See You brings a new sound for the group, although they haven’t completely abandoned the sounds of their previous albums ‘co-exist’ and ‘xx’. Romy’s chilling vocals over a stripped back tracking in ‘Performance’ brings back memories of the trios earlier work whilst the lyrics from ‘Brave for You’ highlight the recurring themes of vulnerability and doubt.
The bands new sound is heard right from the beginning of the album with the funky and upbeat rhythms of ‘Dangerous’, paired with the perfect harmonies of Oliver and Romy, it makes for a great opening. ‘Say Something Loving’ was released only 11 days before the album, giving fans something to get excited by as this is another great single. The conversational style of the vocals gives the track great emotion, which continues as Lips follows on as the next track.
Jamie xx has definitely influenced the band and the direction they have taken in this new album with more synths and samples, allowing the band to create a new sound they would’ve struggled to create with only instruments. His influence is seen in ‘A Violent Noise’ through the staggered synthetic arpeggios in the background, accompanied by crescendos and a gradual build-up that mirrors the emotion behind Oliver and Romy’s lyrics.
‘Lips’ is one of my favourite singles from this album, it has a great balance of influence from Jamie xx, with a strong beat present, as well as still maintaining the laid back vibes of the bands earlier work. The choral sounding repetition of “just your love, just your shadow” along with the other, almost whispered lyrics, adds great intensity.
I See You is an album of diversity, with ‘I Dare You’ being upbeat, professing confidence and self-awareness, whereas ‘Replica’ expresses the fear of not moving forward being “stuck on repeat”. But the album is definitely more upbeat and even joyous than their previous two albums, with ‘On Hold’ representing the brighter selection of songs. ‘On Hold’ was the first track of the album to be released by the band, and I expect it to be big during the festival season, as a feel good summer anthem. ‘Test me’ brings the album to a strong finish, its production is exceptional, and really showcases the talents of this trio, expressing their originality and the vast depth of emotional their music can create.
Overall, I See You is an album that will take you from highs to lows, and all that’s in-between. It is a pure masterpiece of production, with meaningful lyrics that reign home to the bands original routes. I cannot wait to hear these performed live in March during their tour.