I haven’t done an album review since the beginning of summer, and I want to start off this semester with nothing else but this new xx album. After 3 years of growth, separation & reassembly, today marks the date of the band’s second major record, Coexist, released through Young Turks Records. If you were to listen to their first album, xx, and immediately follow it with this album, you might think that you’ve simply played a previously undiscovered B-side to xx because of how consistant they are with their sound. This consistency, however, does not come, like I said, without growth, and this group of British individuals have grown immensely. The theme behind this album has to deal with the band coming back to London after 3 years of touring and scattering across the globe to reunite with family, make up for lost time, & move out of their parent’s home to become refined adults. Their lyrics still emphasize a sexual ambiance and the sound your soul makes when it finds it’s perfect counterpart, but with a backdrop (provided by the outstanding Jamie xx) that sounds like a club banger in disguise.
The influences they’ve had in their lives throughout this gap is what makes this album out to be more than just a group of tracks that sound like they had just been unreleased as opposed to recently produced. Jamie xx, the group’s main producer, engineer & DJ has probably grown the most, being blessed with national acclaim & the opportunity to work with major superstars like Adele, Drake & the iconic late Gil Scott-Heron in his solo career as a producer and remix demigod. Over the years, Jamie (along with Oliver Sim & Romy Madley Croft, the vocalists & guitar/bassist) have been exposed to a very different lifestyle & several different genres of music. The group had reportedly said that they started listening to more disco & pop records, which can be a prominent factor that separates Coexist from xx.The soulful and shy vocals of Ms. Madley Croft continue to speak of heartache, love, sex & other dark emotional senses.Sim has been influenced greatly by the melodies in Drake’s Take Care, which Jamie helped engineer & produce.
Despite trying to avoid the limelight & be the least flashy group in the industry, their success has exposed them to a vital lifestyle that makes Coexist work. If they had stayed in that apartment by the train station recording tracks, sitting on the floor playing their guitar, the sound would have already become outdated and stale. They succeeded in replicating their sound through their growth as individuals, & their template still stands among the best in indie minimalism. What this album lacks is a hit like The Intro off of their last album that can be marketed by any Tom, Dick & Harry in the world, which is a plus in it of itself. What this group continuously stresses is their talent to do more with a superb amount of nothingness than with drops or the addition of instruments. Their album shines in the echoes of the silence in their tracks. The less instruments they use on their songs, the better & more polished their sound becomes. This even reflects with their success. Not having that groundbreaking single, but still having every song on their album be an emotional marvel is what the xx represents, & although I don’t think they’ll succeed in avoiding the limelight, they will still be able to live in their bubble of social rejection & solitude (for now, at least).
“I’m inspired by Drake, Frank Ocean and these people,” Sim said, in response to a question about his band’s ties to modern R&B. “We had the pleasure of meeting Drake. He said his last album was inspired by us. We said, ‘No, our next album was inspired by your second album.’ – The Province Ent.
^ Best song on the album in my personal opinion.