British trio The xx formed back in 2005 and first came onto the scene in 2009 with their debut album, xx. Romy Madley Croft provides vocals and guitar; Oliver Sim, vocals and bass; Jamie Smith, beats and production. They followed up with 2012’s sublime, Coexist, and most recently, 2016’s work of art, I See You. Here’s why you need them in your life.
The Sound: It’s subtle, nuanced, echoing each and every feeling they express, without being distracting. It perfectly sets up the mood for each track, knowing when to quiet down and when to pick things up. It’s so meticulously and purposefully placed in each track, such that each note, each strum, each pluck of a string, each inflection, each beat has a specific place in the song; nothing is superfluous. It doesn’t fit in any particular genre, having flecks of indie rock and dance; hints of pop and electronic; plenty of confessional tones. The beats, guitar and bass shimmer so brightly together, the resulting music comes off in such a way that no other version of the song will ever make sense. Their sound is incomparable, inimitable, and frankly deserves to be a genre all on its own.
The Lyrics: One thing to note about The xx, you can’t just have them on in the background. You have to listen to them and when you do, what you’ll hear will take you to a place you’ve never been before. You’ll find yourself deep in thought, ruminating over some life event in ways you never have. Each word, each phrase is so well thought out. Every syllable is in there for a reason and has a role to play in unfolding the inner workings of Croft and Sim’s minds. They know exactly what to say and how to say it, and only say what’s necessary to convey their mood; nothing more, nothing less. Like true poets.
The Vocals: There’s nothing outwardly spectacular about their vocals; they don’t do runs, they’re not power houses, they don’t show anything off. They exude just the right amount of force when singing, perfectly exercising control and not getting carried away. They can be haunting, moving, playful, emotional, thoughtful, on the verge of tears, confident, confused, and everything else you can imagine. They’re honest and vulnerable, and sometimes a total mess on the inside – and it all translates perfectly through their delivery.
The Albums: When you combine their sound, their lyrics and their vocals, this is what you get: a masterpiece that grabs your soul and breaks it apart piece by piece, leaving you empty and broken inside. Then out of nowhere, breathes life right back into you, reviving your soul and making you feel things far beyond what you ever thought possible – they’re just that good. Each of their albums is unique in its own way, but still manages to evoke the same senses. They’re in town this spring – May 22nd and 23rd at Echo Beach – so if you’ve never seen them live, please do; it’s an experience you’ll never forget.