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Who Are The XX?
The XX are a three piece Mercury Prize winning indie rock band from London who formed in 2005 after meeting at school. The band members are all in there early 20's and it originally consisted of four members but their guitarist and keyboardist Baria Qureshi left the band in 2009 due to "personal differences" shortly after the band's debut album, XX was released. The XX currently only have one album,, however are currently working on a second album which will be released in 2012. The band are signed to the label 'Young Turks'. I first came across The XX after a friend told me about them. I instantly fell in love with their music and I still listen to their songs frequently - their songs are so unusual and unique that it is hard to get sick of them, they're also really catchy, relateable and emotional and both of the lead singers (Romy and Oliver) have got amazing voices which are so versatle and meaningful, their voices merge so well and ooze emotion and chemistry. The instrumentals are also amazing, I especially love the piano and drums although Romy is amazing at playing the guitar, she plays it so smoothly - it's like the guitar has a voice and personality of its own. There sound overall is really good. If you have never heard of the XX I would compare them to bands such as Crystal Castles, Foals, Bloc Party and Florence + The Machine.
The Band Members
- Romy Madley Croft - Vocals and Guitar
- Oliver Sim - Vocals and Bass
- Jamie Smith (aka Jamie XX) - Beats
XX is the bands self titled debut studio album. It was recorded in a garage (mainly at night, which adds to the eeriness to the album) at XL studios in West London between December 2008 and April 2009 and was released in August 2009. The album spent 87 weeks in the UK Album Chart and was certified Platinum in the UK. The album was released as a normal album and a bonus album. I own the bonus album. The bonus disc has got 5 extra songs on it which include various covers, including a cover of an Aaliyah song. The album was placed second in NME magazine's 2009 albums of the year poll and was listed as the 53rd best album of the decade by Fact Magazine. It also won XFM's New Music Award 2010 and the Barclaycard Mercury Prize. The album was met with positive reviews from even the harshest of critics and various singles from the album were hidiously overplayed and hyped up on the radio. Yes I love them, but the amount of times the same song would be played over and over did get slightly annoying.
The artwork is extremely bland. It is quite boring but the simplicity of it does make it somewhat beautiful, it's as if they don't even need to try and jazz up the album cover to make it eye catching because people already love their music and they don't need a pretty looking CD cover to shift the albums. The album artwork is simple - a black background with a large white X on the front which takes up a majority of the album cover.
Price and Availablity
This album is hugely available - supermarkets, music shops, amazon, iTunes, etc. Prices vary from around £5 to £8ish. I bought my deluxe copy from iTunes a while ago and paid around £10.99 for it, which is a very fair price in my opinion as there is over an hours worth of music on the deluxe edition.
Track 1 Intro
This is just the most epic song of all time and i'd say it's currently probably the most popular XX song - it's all over - adverts, radio, tv programmes, etc. To describe this song would be impossible. It is basically a 2 minute long album intro which consists of the guitar, drums and lots of other random instrumentals merged together to create a magical, beautiful piece of music. It's amazing, it can alter my mood from sad to happy within the first 30 seconds. If you haven't heard it yet (which I doubt!) I'd reccomend giving it a listen. You won't regret it!
Track 2 VCR
This is my least favourite song on the album. It feels too "cutesy" and innocent if that makes sense, like the vocals are overlly soft/sweet to the point where it's a bit cringey. I do like the xylophone and subtle guitar riff though and the slow tempo makes it an okay song to relax to. The song in my eyes is about having a friend or partner who you can do everything with without feeling silly, and feeling like you don't need anyone else in the world because you two are just in your own little bubble. It definetly reminds me of mine and my best friends relationship anyway.
Track 3 Crystalised
This is probably one of the XX's more well known songs as was quite overplayed on the radio when it was first released as a single. I love the intro, it starts out quite slow and basic but then materialises into the well known XX guitar riff (I especially love the bass guitar in this song) with soft, almost undetectable drums and the acoustic, clear sounding vocals then kicking in. The vocals are quite husky but still manage to sound sweet in this song, especially Oliver's. The song has mixed meanings, each time I listen to it it gives off a totally different impression than the time I last listened to it. I think at this very moment in time that the song is about a couple talking to eachother, well, singing to eachother, back and fourth. The girl (Romy) is concerned that the relationship is moving too fast - "Do I have to keep up the pace to keep you satisfied?" but the guy (Oliver) is determined that the relationship is moving too slowly and isn't aware of how pushy he is coming across. Basically they are telling eachother to slow down (in the girls case) and speed things up (in the guys case) as despite the already troubled relationship they are determined that they have something special and don't want to ruin it. It's a song where you can sense the confusion and emotion which I really like.
Track 4 Islands
There's only one word to describe this song. It's simply stunning. Well, it's stunning and beautiful, there is no doubt about that in my eyes. I love it to death, it's a song that has stuck with me for a considerable amount of time as it is the song which my boyfriend played for me the first time we had sex. It's a really emotional song which is happy but with sad undertones. The vocals are nice and soft and emotional and blend into eachother, while the range of instrumentals are gorgeous and the tempo and melodies are lovely and each and every sound blends in with the others amazingly well. I percieve the song to be about a guy who searched high and low for love - islands and cities, when his true love was right in front of him. He was after better things in life and didn't want to hang around but went back for her, and she gave up her boyfriend for him as she felt the same way. I don't think it's as happy as it sounds though and it kind of feels like he wants to be with her because he can't find anyone else.. it's such a confusing song to try and understand, it's driving me nuts trying to work it out so go and have a listen for yourself - you'll more than likely fall in love with it!
Track 5 Heart Skipped a Beat
I really like the drums in this song, and the gentle guitar really merges in well with the vocals, emphasizing emotion. It's another slightly slow song and very repetitive so it is not my favourite track on the album but it's bearable. The song is basically about regrets and wanting more from a past relationship.
Track 6 Fantasy
This is another song I don't really like. It's mainly instrumentals with a few whispery, eery vocals. I like Oliver's voice but it's a bit too OTT in this song. I prefer it when he sings with a slight huskiness, not when he sounds like he's got pneumonia or asthma. The song, in my opininon, is about wanting to get back with his ex but not yet, he wants to get himself sorted out first and he isn't ready to forgive her for cheating on him.
Track 7 Shelter
This song is simply stunning, i've loved it since the minute I heard it and i'm still not sick of it. It has quite recently popped back into the charts in the form of a cover by Birdy, so i'm sure a majority of people, even those who aren't very aware of the XX will of heard of it. There is no Oliver in this song and it's just Romy singing, she has such a gorgeous twang to her voice and sings with such vulnerability, passion and truth, each word is spoken clearly and with meaning. The song, in my opinion (people will definetly percieve this differently, it's not the kind of song that has a simple message to it), is about been so in love and desperate to cling onto someone that it drives them away. Without this person, she can't cope, to the point of considering suicide because she can't breathe without him - "I still want to drown, whenever you leave, please teach me gently how to breathe." There's a mix of emotions in this song - heartbreak, confusion, hope, desperation, and obviously love. She is confused as to why he has left her as she can't see how dependent on him she is/has been, and is trying to tempt him back with sex - "Can I make it better with the light turned on?" and finds sex as the "shelter" or solution to there failing relationship, hoping it will resolve the couple's issues. The instrumentals highten the emotion in the song with the single guitar chords at the beginning emphasizing each word. Then the bass and guitar riff kicks in, with the piano softening the whole thing and adding a nice contrast of sounds to the song. This song is enough to put me in a dreamy, trance like state, it's honestly so relaxing and beautiful, and the way it fades out at the end is gorgeous, like it's reflecting the relationship fizzling out.
Track 8 Basic Space
This is a weird but suprisingly catchy song. I love the jumpy vocals and the instrumentals at the intro. It reminds me a bit of a kids TV theme tube for some weird reason. It has a very mild rapping tone to it in my opinion with Oliver's vocals moving at a nice pace. I really like the chorus as Romy's voice helps liven the song up that bit more and makes it quite of a pop sounding song as her voice is quite upbeat in this. The song, yet again, is about a failing relationship and the feeling of not wanting to let go. I've come to this conclusion because Oliver sings about how he can change himself for the better.
Track 9 Infinity
I really like this song. It is full of emotion, good lyrics and strong vocals. The tempo is nice and slow so it's relaxing, with the tension building up nicely, with the outro and ending been the best bit of the song purely for the instrumentals. The song fits in perfectly with the album and reflects what the album is about perfectly. The song is about a break up, regrets and cheating.
Track 10 Night Time
I'll say it. This is just an amazing song to have sex to. I'm sorry if that's a bit graphic, but it's true! The bass is just orgasmic, it's enough to get you feeling like you've just eaten 50 happy pills. The pace of this is much faster paced then a majority of the other tracks and there's a new instrumental kicking in and the tone changes every few seconds and they all merge together which I love as it brings a bit of life to the song, especially the riffs. I'm not saying that the other songs are lifeless but this one just seems to move quicker and it's the kind of song that you can dance about to rather than just laying about day dreaming to. Romy's vocals are lovely and in a few lines Oliver can be heard as a backing singer, which is probably my favourite part of the song as it's like you can hear both sides of the story. The song, in my opinion, is about been in love with a close friend but not wanting to tell them because it has the potential to rip the friendship apart - "Can I confess these things to you? I don't know." but keeping it a secret is killing her inside and she doesn't want to lie to him anymore. The title 'Night Time' in my opinion reflects that he is what she thinks about each night. It is quite a touching song which reminds me of my past crushes, and i'm sure almost everyone will be able to relate to it, although different people might percieve it to mean slightly different things.
Track 11 Stars
This song is just mind blowingly beautiful. The guitar chords and piano at the beginning suck me into the song straight away. It's like it hypnotizes me from the very moment it starts. The 18 second intro of instrumentals slowly builds up, with Oliver's gorgeously soft and emotion filled vocals then kicking in. This is a song that can be percieved differently by everyone. I don't think anyone could ever agree on the absolute excact, honest meaning of this song. To me it tells the story of using sex to keep someone that you are attracted to or perhaps love, who isn't interested or doesn't love you back, close to you - "I can give it all on the first date" Romy's lyrics suggest she wants to give it all up on the first meeting but he (Oliver) wants to wait because he isn't completely sure that he likes her - "But if stars shouldn't shine by the very first time then dear it's fine, so fine by me." When I first listened to it I thought it was telling the meeting of a couple, and them falling in love, but after over 2 years of listening to this song almost daily my perception of the song has slightly changed. The bassline is amazing and the duet near the end with Oliver and Romy is beautiful, it really is just lovely - you can actually hear the emotion in there voices, it doesn't sound like they're reading from a script if that makes sense. The piano throughout the song is very striking, it's almost mesmerising but not to the point of been distracting or overpowering, I also love that the guitar playing in the background keeps the XX's unique, recogniseable indie-rock sound but I always find myself concentrating on the piano whenever i'm relaxing or drifting off to sleep. It's a great song to sing along softly to while day dreaming and it's also a gorgeous song to listen to with my boyfriend, it's one of those songs that makes you fall in love all over again.
Bonus Track 1 Teardrops
I'd say this is probably my second favourite song on the entire album. The intro is epic with such amazing instrumentals - including a triangle I think! and a perfect guitar riff which carries on throughout the song, developing into such a powerful and emotional sound when mixed with Romy and Oliver's vocals. The song is about a girl (Romy) who cheated on her boyfriend - "I took a crazy chance, next time i'll be true." As a result of cheating her boyfriend has left her, and now she's regretting cheating on him as she realises that she truly loved him and misses him so much it's unbearable, everything reminds her of him and she doesn't feel the same without him in her life - "And the music don't feel like it did with you." It's basically a song about regret and loneliness, and also hope - "Next time i'll be true" this gives the impression that she is fooling herself into thinking he will take her back. It's a gorgeous song an I love when Oliver's voice appears, it's gorgeous, it hightens the emotion exceptionally well.
Bonus Track 2 Do You Mind
The songs intro with the drums and guitar riff and then the slowly paced piano is beautiful. Then the vocals, which is Romy and Oliver singing, kick in. The vocals are slightly warped and edited to sound echoey and dreamy which I don't really like, I think it would be better without the editing - it sounds a bit manufactured. It sounds quite haunting and when the bass and drums kick in around half way through it brings the song out of its shell - without the instrumentals it wouldn't be half as good as it is. The song is about sex, basically the guy is taking advantage of a girl he knows has a crush on him. She's upset so he takes her back to her house and because he knows she is infactuated with him, he charms her "Baby, I like your style, let's get it on" and then sleeps with her, telling her "And maybe if you play it right, you can be all mine" It basically is about sexual pressure and then the pressure to keep quiet afterwards, which makes me think he is the popular kind of guy and doesn't want everyone knowing that he has slept with her. The outro instrumentals (drum, bass and guitar) is lovely too.
Bonus Track 3 Hot Like Fire
I'm quite unsure about this song. I'm not sure whether I love it or hate it. It has quite a warped, mashed up feel to it as it's quite choppy and it's faded in parts with the vocals at times been whispery and at other times quite strong. The song in my opinion is about a couple's first time sleeping with eachother. The girl (Romy) is talking about taking it slowly and making it more special, but in a sort of teasing tone of voice - "Hot like fire, take you higher, you can't resist.." Oliver doesn't really have any vocals in this song apart from a few backing lines. It's quite an intense song, however is quite slow moving (this definetly isn't a very lively track!) and repetitive which is why I am not too keen on it. The only instrumental that I can hear in this is the guitar which has a nice, but steady pace to it and I prefer the guitar on its own at the end without Romy singing over it because it has a lovely emotional sound to it and it's played amazingly well. This song is actually an Aaliyah cover and was written by Missy Elliott. The band really make it there own though and give it a whole new feel.
Bonus Track 4 Blood Red Moon
This is a strange, haunting and beautiful song. I adore the lyrics and the overall sound, however I hate the strange static sounding instrumentals - they totally ruin the song! The song is basically about vampires or werewolves on the prowl down a dark alley - "Picture me under blood red moon, i'll make your eyes turn yellow and your skin turn blue." it's not a song that means a huge amount and it's not one to be taken serious - it's a nice change from there usual stuff. The tempo is slow but moves along nicely, with Oliver and Romy's duet on the chrous making the song what it is, it's quite repetitive but very catchy and easy to sing along to.
Bonus Track 5 Insects
The intro and chorus to this is the best thing in the world. Oliver's voice is just so beautiful and sexy at the same time. I am not completely sure what the song means but after listening to it on repeat for the past 10 minutes I have come to the conclusion that it's about been in a relationship, or wanting to be in a relationship with a stunning, perfect and witty person who you look up to and feeling inferior - "You make me feel like an insect." Romy leads the vocals with Oliver's sexy, husky vocals popping up in the chorus. The instrumentals are lovely, very nice and soft, i'm not completely sure what they are but I think there's some drums in there and there's a nice smooth guitar riff. As you can probably tell this isn't my favourite song on the album, I do like it but I find it to be quite repetetive but that is my own personal opinion.
Love, sex, breakups, melodies and vampires, this album has it all. It is slightly repetitive at points, but the flawless vocals, lyrics and instrumentals make up for this. This is a hugely versatile album which has so much emotion and meaning that anyone will be able to sit and listen to this, and percieve it however they want. It's a lovely song for either lieing down to in the sun, having it on in the background while going about your daily bits and bobs or having it turned up as loud as possible, dancing about wildly to. Overall an amazingly unique, beautiful and touching album which almost anyone will thoroughly enjoy.
2010 Mercury Prize winners XX are in Indie/alternative trio from London. Essentially they conform to no rules of engagement, their artistry is all about setting moods in an insular, introverted fashion, than electrifying audiences. Upon the release of their self-titled album XX in 2009, they were united as a foursome, before keyboard player Baria Qureshi moved on ...
*Romy Madley Croft - Vocals, guitar
*Oliver Sim - Vocals, bass
*Jamie Smith - Beats, MPC
Self-titled album 'XX' is the type of album to divide opinion, with its unique stance on music. Still, the album was certified platinum, however the four singles released did not fare so well 'Islands' been the most successful, charting at number 34. Which came as no real surprise as their innovative style is of eclectic taste and understood better as a concept than a single piece of music.
1 INTRO (2.08) A full two minute intro of instrumental, giving a brief insight what the albums about to hold, it's frustratingly airy, atmospheric and mood driven. The sensual waves of percussion beats, drum lines and gentle riffs are delicate and endearing.
2 VCR (2.57) VCR demonstrates the first song with any words, an unusual sparse, airy number lead by a xylophone melody. A gentle angular grating riff plays beyond the xylophone, more in support than to drive any energy into this sensitive short number. The vocals are shared by Croft and Sim, Croft's soft sensual tones kick off, before the heavy, dull tones of Sim collaborate, but you could almost call it speaking to one another than singing it's that quite and slow. VCR, is played to an ultra slow tempo that ambles along wistfully, very uniform and ordinary. I think I like it, but its more like mood music, and you have to be in the right frame of mind to a, listen to it and b, enjoy it.
3 CRYSTALISED (3.22) fairly wistful, harrowing intro of sounds, as a peculiar drum machine plays with a strangled, restraint bass guitar. The staccato riff is pretty bland and bandy, and one which never really develops or tries anything to change the angle-less edges of the track. It's like a gentle acoustic passing that trickles along hollow-like, the vocals again are shared and quite personal. Croft's luscious tones are soft and gentle, almost naive like, compared to the gruff, deep tones of Sim. Although very threadbare and slow, their tones are suited as a pairing and its casual nature makes it endearing and sensual. It's certainly not something you're going to get up and dance to, or feel inspired by, but it has got an air of charm and likeability to it. It's very calming and soothing, but hardly ground breaking.
4 ISLANDS (2.41) Islands follows the same pattern, all neat corners and boxes ticked. The arrangement and confidence in the track is impressive, shown by all the intricacies developed throughout. It rarely blends together, fairly sporadic and stop, starting. The gentle intricate staccato riff rolls over more touching vocals that blend into each other, soft and negotiating as the passion between Croft and Sim escalates. Again it's all gentle and passive, the tempo crawls along the floor, to the wistful airy evocative story the two develop nicely. The only criticism is it follows the same path as its predecessors, the same tone and tempo.
5 HEART SKIPPED A BEAT (4.02) The drum machine kicks in with some rather awful clasping sounds, almost like bland hand claps, that monotonously carry the track forward, sadly never giving up. The gentle riffs are largely uninspiring too, as this dreamy escapade leaves me a little flat, and my heart has certainly lost something, oh yeah the pounding. Again the intricacies between Croft and Sim are at the fore, their passive gentle poetry is endearing enough, but it's played to an awful sound. Having said that towards the end it actually livens up a little, and musically becomes a little more interesting, utilising possibly the most aggressive chords on the album, not that it really escalates to anything of any strength. It's a very bleak and lonely track, sauntering around nomadically all basic and naked like, leaves you feeling rather cold if I'm honest.
6 FANTASY (2.38) Fantasy is another instrumental of pure atmosphere; it's hauntingly eerie, reaped full of Sinicism and wild energetic noises. Generated cascading whispers and ghost like sounds, gives a surreal pensive ambiance, spacey vibes give you a sense of floating, and it's charismatic and evocative but yet cold and emotional. The bass actually steps up to the mark for a change and plays some lovely gentle angular riffs towards the end to finish off this subtle, dream like escape.
7 SHELTER (4.30) Shelter ventures a little further forward into normality, and dare I say leaning towards the pop culture a little, the more coherent Romy becomes a little more expressive and engaging. Her tones are gentle and yearning and less passive as in previous tracks. Shelter again all decaying, naked and wistful, as a lonely gentle bass gently picks at the chords, selectively so. Another track that you find yourself drifting, it's all airy, sparse and dream like, to a walk along tempo, than never fails to drift off its solemn expressive course. One of my favourite tracks from the album, as you get to hear the vulnerability in Romy singing alone, Shelter is moody and thought provoking, stylish and innovative, good job I think.
8 BASIC SPACE (3.08) An odd opening, sounds like a car horn driven by a whimpering battery been honked. Basic Space lends itself towards a more subtle r&b feel, but only lends, and it's in no way distinct or normal. Basic Space is exactly that basic, and a song stretched around empty, sparse, airy textures. Drum machines, loops and more riffs accompany the duo here, but seem to generate a rhythm, rather than play any distinct part. I'm not convinced by this one, it's to neglect of anything industrious to give it any appeal. The sombre tones are rather unconvincing this time too, and largely incoherent as their usual distinct sounds, overlap and drift into one another.
9 INFINITY (5.13) Infinity, is the jewel in the crown, a wonderful display of sexual tension, passion and drama. Musically it's tight too, intricately styled, twist and turns all negated and neatly packaged. The main executed riff lends itself towards Chris Isaak's 'Wicked Game' which obviously helps, as I love that track too. Infinity, is dangerously creepy and magical, the slowly picked electric chords are some of the finest the albums offers, all nervous and tender. Oddly enough the deep groves that Sim offers are the highlight, it's potent and sexually alluring, the chemistry between the two singers, is most plausible and engaging. The tempo is as slow as ever, but the riff and educationally placed clasps/crashes, lend itself to give the track more bite and versatility, the pathway also even changes, which is a first, with an almost climactic ending, pure brilliance. If you don't enjoy this track, then you will find no solace here, this is a million miles the most appealing and believable track, full marks, and would be ideal to make love to.
10 NIGHT TIME (3.37) a rather sombre track, no surprise there then, evocatively atmospheric, all dreamy and landscapes. Night Time represents a little versatility as the texture of the song takes a different stance towards its predecessors, as the tempo moves fairly swiftly and becomes a little interchangeable. The intricately plucked chiming riffs are quite delicious, delicate and lingering. The composition is first class; everything seems to be placed perfectly and neatly. The delicate finger picking that builds towards an end that fools you into thinking of something spectacular, before resting on its morbid restful laurels. It comes close to rivalling Infinity for top billing, but has to be happy with second best single from the album, excellent.
11 STARS (4.23) and so to the delicately trickled finale, stark poignant chords surround the two lovers as they sing to one another, rather than at each other, it's exceptionally pretty and alluring. Very simply constructed, and stripped, but its poise and vulnerability make this a success, and the perfect ending to a topsy-turvy album, deepened in raw emotion and passion.
The XX debut album is a sombre, bleak affair, soaked in dreamy landscapes and airy vibes. Their sound is very unique, quiet and introverted, all lonely and despairing, launching a range of thought provoking wistfully quaint notions.
Musically, it's very stripped and bare, the tempo, never really moves on from ultra slow, morbidly so at times, but on occasions it works effortlessly well, others not so. The landscapes are often built around a drum machine and intricately plucked bass that are both light, airy and threadbare. You often get the impression it's only there because it has to be, rather than playing an integral part to the sound.
Personally I felt only towards the latter half of the album, that the bass became rather interesting, lifting the monotonous gloom and despair somewhat. Its all extremely fragile and edgy, the notes are played sparingly and sparse, utilising echoes and blank canvases to create the direction it holds. Having said that at times, it works tremendously well, creating quiet beautiful dreamy moods.
What the XX rely on is the chemistry between the dual lead singers Romy Madley Croft and Oliver Sim, rather than sing together, you often find them singing to one another, as some kind of love poem, all nervy and sensual. Their relationship is key to the success of the music, without the believability the pairing upholds the album's intricacies would never work.
Croft and Sim can usually be found either finishing one another's sentences or singing in turn, Sim is the more polished delicate performer whom often takes the lead, or even solo's on certain tracks. Her wistfully innocent tones are ever so tender and nervy, which is in stark contrast to Sim's deep, throaty tones, however they compliment each other amazingly efficiently. Sim's dark almost talking styled stance is very sensual; sexy, creating a real pensive, tense aura between the pair. Indeed the sexual tension portrayed is one of the highlights from this album.
Nowhere do you find anything loud, fast or of anything aggressive, it's all insular and guarded, if you like your music to get your feet tapping and something inspirational then this is not what your looking for, it's much more like mood music, something to make love to, or dare I say it get stoned too, which I obviously don't condone than anything to make you smile.
The album is all about creating a sensual, moody ambiance, it's like a love story been told by the two lead singers, portrayed through their musical interplay rather than actions, it's all about tight compositions, intricately placed sterile actions, and subtle variations.
Perhaps the most disappointing feature is the diversity the album takes, it rarely shapes from the same lineage, the tone is similar throughout, the one note plucks hardly vary, and it becomes all too passive at times. I'd liked to see them stretch themselves somewhere along the line, by going completely of kilter; shocking you in the process, rather than sticking to the same formula, which can get a little hard at times.
Although personally I really like this album, its of an eclectic taste, many would disregard it in seconds, which is a shame, because its something you would need to listen to several times to understand and adore. On a first listening even I was thinking how bad is this, but if you're in the right frame of mind, it does grown on you.
I think it's directed towards the solemn indie market, or anyone that likes mood music, but I understand this does have a limited appeal, personally I'd recommend you listen to either tracks 'Infinity' or 'Night Time' if you find them at all appealing, then the rest of the album is definitely worth a listen, but give it a chance to grow.
Amazon priced at a reasonable £3.99 or tracks downloadable at 79p each. The album is also released on Vinyl, priced at £17.77
What a fantastic album consisting of a melancoly remix and a beautiful voice of the main vocalist which is soft and yet comepllingly endeering.
XX are a band of indie style genre, and thier first album 'the young turks' won the mercury prize awards last year in 2010. They are a new band and yet I feel have not been advertised half enough and yet the moment someone hears them sing people fall for them instantly. The lyrics and tones of each song are very magically induced. They are romantic and poetic and the vocalist has a calming essence within her voice which instantly connects to the listener and enhances the tone of the music for all to release a peascful and yet subtle beated aspect.
The album has won various awards since its release including the NME award and as a band they are becoming more and more well known. There are 11 tracks on the album with my own personal favourites being shelter and night time which have both beautiful and inspiring lyrics concerning love and are most suitable for young couples in love!
The album can be purchased from main music stores as well as supermarkets and of course all online stores such as amazon and play.
In short, if it's nominated for the Mercury Music Award, it's not bad. If it wins it, it's even better.
The XX aren't even 21 yet (the XX apparently denotes their age), but the album has much more maturity than that. It seems that is a compulsory compliment bandied around for any artists under 25, but this is truly the only album I've heard that has that maturity.
It's lo-fi and simplistic, and that's what gives it its appeal. In a world of programmed glitchy beats and auto tuned voices, this is its antithesis. At some points it sounds like a demo, but that's by no means a bad thing. The singers' intertwining voices seem brutally honest and during Heart Skips a Beat, both sing "Sometimes I still need you"- it's hard not to believe that they're not singing their lines to each other. However, it is inevitable that an album has a filler track, and this is true to form- Fantasy tries to be too atmospheric, taking a guitar line from the following song Shelter.
Apparently completely recorded in the night time, this album soaks up an ethereal, dark atmosphere, without being too depressing.
Stand out songs: Heart Skips a Beat, Crystalised, Intro
I have a sort of obsession with finding out what songs have been played on adverts if I like the sound of them. When I heard what is perhaps one of their most popular songs- 'Heart Skipped A Beat' played on the 90210 advert on E4 I was immediately in love with their unusual, fresh sound. It's unlike anything i've ever listened to.
Because I was so in love with 'Heart Skipped A Beat', I looked up all their other songs, and was really excited to find that I loved almost all of them as well. Normally when I really like a song, I check out the rest of their songs and am disappointed to find that they're pretty mediocre. This album is different. The songs seem to flow into one another seamlessly. I absolutely love that there are both a male and female singing individually in each song. I think it's a real breath of fresh air from all the only boys or girl bands out there.
On top of this, they write beautiful lyrics which become even more beautiful when sung.
All in all, i'm VERY impressed with this. I think they might just be my new favourite band. I'm a bit disappointed that they're becoming well-known as I like to listen to bands who aren't particularly popular, but good for them I guess. They're certainly good enough so they deserve it.
This is, by far, one of the best albums of the decade. I am completely and utterly addicted to this album ever since i downloaded and it quickly became my most played on itunes!
I would even go as far to say that this album has been contructed as a work of art, with each song seeming to move effortlessly into the next allowing for this album to be played over and over without any of those poorly thought out transitions that are present in so many albums of the moment.
However, this is not to say that each of the individual tracks are poor on their own, but rather i would say it is the complete opposite with singles such as Islands and Heart Skipped a Beat forming the basis for many a summer soundtrack (and also appearing heavily on commercials at the moment). I listen to this album in all situations, driving, running and even in the bedroom! If you are to only download one album this year i would go for the XX's offering everytime!
It's hard to understand why this is causing such a stir but somehow it is and I am hooked.
The music is simple and nothing new. It has elements of a post-punk New-Ordery feel (minus the whiny vocals that can come with New Order) that envelops a post-dub vibe to the bass lines. You hard realise the Bass is there sometimes until you play the record on 'bad' speakers, you realise just how hard hitting the bass lines on some of the tracks are.
The vocals are effortlessly pushed out. There's no force behind the voice. The voice comes out and fills the room in such simplistic beauty. The vocals recorded so crisply means they are never lost in the background. The standard mix of analogue guitars and digital electronic synths somehow have a new life here: they aren't doing anything new. They kind of enter on the lighter end of The Faint tracks, but they're doing ....something else.
There's a great duality to this album. You can sit and listen intently to pick out the subtle movements within each track, but the music is so easy to listen to, it can just be left in the background of a formal/informal dinner, or a beginning of a BBQ when every-one's chatting, or a the end when every-one's dozing. It's incredible.
There really needs to be a music sommelier who matches music to dinners; there's a gap in the industry. This has the elements of a light beer, never overpowering the taste buds but when concentrated on you can taste the beauty on your tongue.
On a side note check out these remixes: Dark Sky Remix of Crystalised (a garage roller) and Pariah Remix of Basic Space (a fan video uses a clip from Godard's "Vivre Sa Vie" and it works perfectly)
There's something about this debut album that just takes me away.
And people must agree, as it's already graced the Itunes top spot for weeks, making many of its original fans bitter that their favourite new secret band suddenly got mainstream.
XX's music is everywhere at the moment, wherever you hear whispered voices over sweet chiming melodies on an advert, it's probably them. (Most notable in E4's advert for 90210 is one of my personal favourites 'Heart Skipped a Beat'.
The genius behind the originality of this album is that it isn't original. There's nothing different about it to the usual indie offerings of thoughtful, confusing lyricism and brick-block synths accompanied by guitars. And yet it IS different. We're just not sure what it is, but XX have got it. They've taken a very dry genre that's suffered at the hands of a cheap-to-make-easy-to-produce approach, and they've made it come alive again.
Definately one of the best listens of 2010, finally an album without just a few offerings, this is an album that has been made with care, crafted like a work of art, each song leading seamlessly into the next.
watch out for this band, they're going to go great places!
Here's a band with a huge ammount of hype around them but unlike so many (MGMT and the Klaxons particularly spring to mind) the Xx are truly worthy of all that is being said about them.
Their sound while not unique really feels like a breath of fresh air, with clean chiming guitars echoing in dark space against sparse beats and R&B vocals. Uniquely (I think) among bands they don't have a drummer but simply a guy with a drum machine pressing buttons and this along with their overall demeanor gives their live show an almost charismatic lack of charisma that I find both charming and unique.
All this comes together on their self titled debut to make one of the standout records of the past year.
Highlights for me include Islands, Heart Skipped A Beat and Shelter. Listen to any of those have you'll have an accurate idea of the feel and quality of this album. There honestly is nothing in the way of filler I would say. So ulitmately have a listen and then go buy it!
Disc #1 Tracklisting
5 Heart Skipped A Beat
8 Basic Space
10 Night Time