What is it about The xx? With just a piece of music, they burrow into the softest emotional space of the heart and pry those feelings to the surface. It's the "he said, she said," the moment that overcomes when you're sitting next to the person who shared your world and suddenly they're a stranger, or perhaps it's the thoughts that race through the depths of your mind while holding your head in your hands, wondering why. The songs that comprise their debut album, xx, are the anxious nights of discovering love. Their sophomore album Coexist "finds itself on the other side of heartbreak, when the light returns."
In their past productions, the groups heart-sinking lyrics bring up images of scribbles on loose-leaf paper, desperate attempts at salvaging a sinking love. This album, while still sticking to the romantic ups and downs life brings upon us, has a more mature vibe. Romy Madley Croft and Oliver Sim's signature harmonizing duet is unfailing. Jamie Smith helps create instrumentals that are mesmerizing and beautiful. Combined, the tracks create a personal realm that is entirely relative to the listener.
The 'x marks the spot' prismatic rainbow of oil separating from water of their album artwork metaphor represents what the album holds. "I was reading up on oil on water - when you see a puddle on the floor and it’s a rainbow. Oil and water don’t mix, they agree to peacefully coexist," says Croft.
The spooky repetitive whirring sound effects of "Try" is a fresh sound for the London-based group. The pondering thoughts and soothing bassline accompanied by steel drums in "Reunion" is suddenly silenced about two minutes in and transforms into a more upbeat pace. The imagery in "Sunset" is incredibly powerful and it's clear through their lyrics that the time and experiences between their first album release and now has brought them wisdom. Maturity is understanding and accepting the inevitable estrangement that comes with broken love. "I saw you again, it felt like we had never met, it's like the sunset in your eyes...what have you done, with the one I love," sings Croft. This album is not drowning and gasping for air but is grounded and knowingly acknowledges things will not be the same.
The song that I found the most uplifting and moving comes after nine tracks of somber acceptance. The healing sounds of "Swept Away" and beatific lyrics are the silver lining of the album. Perhaps strategically placed at the end, this song with it's bouncing nature and hi-hats, is the beacon of hope.
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