Monday, November 16, 2009

"XX"- the xx


Much ado about nothing, a phrase that, to me, adequately describes how I feel about this album. I could tell you that this is another great debut from an upcoming band, but that's not the case. For me, I received it as "Really? Another band from England with white-boy soul and ghostly Indie tendencies?". Another phrase that adequately describes how I feel about this record.

Moving on, the first guitar licks from "Interlude" are sick, I'm not going to lie. The album's opener is a great track. It's as much ghostly as it is sly and groovin'. It's also worth noting that "Interlude" is instrumental, a sort of bold move that puts them in the instrumental club along with Sufjan Stevens and a select few other bands from this decade. On the downside, its an exciting to a mostly uneventful and anticlimactic (in respect to tempo) LP. "VCR" has a wonderful jangle, with more one-at-a-time guitar antics. "You used to have all the answers/and you/you still do", a lyric sung by the xx's raspy, soulful female singer. "Crystalised" lets the British Justin Timberlake wanna-be of their lead singer take over, while continuing the duet-structured lyrics with enough sexual tension to light a room on fire. This song also helps the album take off a little bit more, and along with fellow track "Islands", emulate the sound you miss when the second side comes around. Enter "Islands"; my favourite track on the album. It has the punchy groove they're going for with dance-rock, and of course the ghostly, haunting nature of their songs, with a little bit more punch, and an atmospheric keyboard (atmosphere being a first). "I am yours now/so now I don't ever have to leave/I've been found now/so now I'll never explore"; words of two satisfied young lovers who quote the fear of committment, as well as giving into desire. This song's ending is as climactic as it gets on "XX" unfortunately, something you don't see coming at first, but makes for more disappointment later.

The guitar takes up the most space in nearly every song. The simplistic production set-up gets too predictable, and frankly, too old. "Fantasy" starts a long dynasty of empty, boring songs that lasts for the rest of the album (save "Basic Space"). Like I said, the biggest problem is that I am constantly waiting for this album to take off; they've got so much potential with their sound and a lot of creativity. I can't imagine what seeing them live would be like, they're trying to be a soul/dance oriented band but their songs hardly ever make you want to move more than tapping your foot. I want the band's two singers to belt it, there's so many opportunities for it, and they just let their songs stay in the shadows and linger. For the vocals, the female comes off as whiny, moaning and kind of a drag near the end of the album, which doesn't make this album any easier to listen to. As far as merit, I will give them that they're pretty much the only band that sounds like this right now, but unfortunately being unique is not always good when you're not that great. Hopefully we can expect more from them on their sophomore record. If that happens, I'm very interested to see where it goes.

I guess this album could be pretty cool to make out to; or at least interesting.

Key tracks: "Islands"

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