British trio can co- ex­ist

Sunday Tasmanian - Tassie Living - - MUSIC - JAR­RAD BE­VAN

THREE years ago The xx de­but took the world by storm.

It was a cult hit that quickly be­came a com­mer­cial break­through and a win­ner of the cov­eted Mer­cury Mu­sic Prize.

This year, with the el­e­ment of sur­prise van­quished, ex­pec­ta­tions have been set much higher. Thank­fully, the trio has shrugged off the out­side noise and cre­ated a bunker for them­selves in which to write their unique brand of bruised, emo­tive, brood­ing, at­mo­spheric and mopey mu­sic.

Open­ing with An­gels makes per­fect sense. Re­flec­tive, melan­cholic, wist­ful, gen­tle, it’s one of the band’s most re­strained of­fer­ings to date. Romy Madely Croft sings of all- con­sum­ing love, the kind that hurts. Mu­si­cally un­der­stated, her voice shines brightly over some lan­guid gui­tars and oc­ca­sional rhyth­mic flour­ishes. It’s a treat.

In many ways the songs on Co­ex­ist sound very much like the last al­bum’s tunes – the tag team vo­cals, the crys­talline gui­tar lines, the re­strained per­cus­sion. In tone and style these al­bums are ob­vi­ously twins but there are new in­flu­ences creep­ing in too.

The steel pan drums on Re­union jump up as a prime ex­am­ple. So too the dance mu­sic in­flu­ences, pre­sum­ably via Jamie xx who has carved him­self a side gig as an in­de­mand DJ dur­ing his day job’s down time.

Sun­set, Swept Away, Tides and the lat­ter half of Re­union all sound vaguely house mu­sic in­spired. Not the Jersey Shore or will. i. am’s cheesy def­i­ni­tion of the genre, more an xx take on the early days of deep house. It’s in the drums and the bass and the swirling, cycli­cal melodies.

The bass on Sun­set is warm and round with Croft’s lovelorn vo­cals framed to present the ache of see­ing a per­son she used to feel for but now things have changed. This song is also the al­bum’s best ex­am­ple of how pow­er­ful it is when her vo­cals over­lap with band­mate Oliver Sim’s. There is ten­sion and ten­der­ness, bub­bling and over­flow­ing.

Clos­ing num­ber Our Song is a pure mo­ment with­out adorn­ment. The pair whis­per se­crets to each other, it’s vul­ner­a­ble and mag­i­cal. These friends, who can’t even re­mem­ber a time when they weren’t in each other’s pocket, de­liver lines like: ‘‘ And there’s no one else, who knows me, like you do.’’ Not tricky song­writ­ing, but ef­fec­tive. Look­ing at indie mu­sic re­leases, it’s easy to imag­ine Frank Ocean, Grimes and The xx bat­tling it out for the No. 1 spot on 2012 Best Of lists.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Australia

© PressReader. All rights reserved.