Highlights: The xx, ‘I See You’


★★★½

the-xx-i-see-you-young-turksThe xx return with cool, calm, and collected third album, ‘I See You.’ Chemistry, production, and vocals are major selling points.

Alternative band The xx return with their highly anticipated third studio album, I See You. In November 2016, Jamie “xx” Smith, Romy Madley Croft, and Oliver Sim returned with single, “On Hold.” Following the would-be promo single, The xx dropped one more intriguing single, “Say Something Loving.” Finally, I See You arrives in its entirety, and the results are successful all in all.

“Dangerous”

“Dangerous” kicks off I See You with controlled punch.  While the brass hits give the opener an edge, the record never grows raucous or loses the sense of control.  Nonetheless, the groove is infectious, while the cool, calm, and collected approach of Romy Madley Croft and Oliver Sim is successful. Electrifying isn’t a fitting a description, but “Dangerous” sets the bar high for I See You.

“Say Something Loving”

“Say Something Loving” opens with an Alessi Brothers sample – “Before it slips away” – that recurs throughout the record. Rhythmic tension is established following the intro. This intensity remains throughout the chorus. A romantic song, Sim and Croft tackle the insecurities brought upon them by love.  While the chorus varies throughout the song, the sentiment is consistent:

“You say something loving / it’s so overwhelming, the thrill of affection / feels so unfamiliar / you say something loving / without hesitation it hits me, hits me / it feels so unfamiliar.”

“Performance”

“Performance” is nothing short of radiant, showcasing Croft at her best. Subtle for the most part, the authenticity shines through, with Croft delivering one of the best performances (and songs) of I See You.  In addition to her fantastic voice, the strings are a selling point.

“On Hold”

Standout buzz single “On Hold” superbly whetted the listener’s palette ahead of I See You.  As the album materializes, “On Hold” remains as the record to beat.  It opens warmly, with a beautiful timbre established by pads and synths. There is exceptional vocal chemistry and contrast between Croft and Sim.  This contributes to the magic without question.

Final Thoughts  

All in all, I See You is an enjoyable, well-conceived project by The xx.  The xx release an effort that trends on the quiet side, but isn’t devoid of rhythm.  At times, I See You falls victim to merely serving the role of background music. That’s not a bad thing, but a smidge more assertiveness at times wouldn’t have hurt.  Still, I See You is worthwhile.

Gems: “Dangerous,” “Say Something Loving,” “Performance” & “On Hold”

The xx • I See You • Young Turks Recordings • Release: 1.13.17
Photo Credit: Young Turks Recordings
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