Jan Ní Fhlanagáin
posted on September 03, 2009 19:00
A review of the album xx by The xx
Review Snapshot: This is a seductive, atmospheric affair tailor made for late nights, long stares and languid dancing.
The Cluas Verdict? 8 out of 10
Long player debutantes The xx are a quartet of 19/20 year old Londoners who’ve found themselves at the business end of some serious hype in recent months. Such levels of expectation in print media and across the blogosphere are rarely satisfied, refreshing then that an album which excels in the art of understatement, should do the trick.
Instrumental opener ‘Intro’ gives way to a pop couplet of VCR and Crystalise. Smiley teenage anthems of flawless orthodontistry and sunkissed complexions they may not be, but in The xx world of 80s noir, they’re sure to be top of the pops. The shrugged shoulder slur of Romy Madley Croft and Oliver Sim’s vocals is nothing short of intoxicating and lends an added intensity to their tales of teenage attraction.
Unlike some of their contemporaries The xx display maturity that belies their years in resisting the urge to lean too heavily on their influences and instead rely on their instincts. Fleeting echoes of Interpol and Young Marble Giants are certainly audible but in no way distracting and the aural homage to Chris Isaac’s ‘Wicked Game’ at the start of ‘Infinity’, actually serves to enhance an already heady ode to love lost.
But by far the most refreshing thing about ‘xx’ is the space between sounds, it’s neither cacophonous nor sparse but it does allow room for the listener to inhabit the songs, which makes for an intimacy that’s lacking in the debut albums of others such as La Roux or Florence & The Machine. Not that ‘xx’ is without its flaws, repetition of lyrical ideas being the most obvious of its shortcomings. Band member Jamie Smith has done a brilliant job on the production of this record, each beat has a curve to it, something which mirrors the seductive lilt of the vocals perfectly and by teasing the senses rather than bombarding them with bells and whistles, this record gets under your skin and into your hips almost in spite of yourself.
Jan Ní Fhlanagáin