UK indie electronic rock band The xx returns to deliver I See You, their first full album in five years. The record is stated to have been following an inspirational lead from Jamie xx’s solo debut, In Colour.
This record takes a bolder stance sonically than the past two records, Coexist and XX, while still remaining true to form. Often times after extended time periods between releases something changes, things become formulaic in trying to recapture the old magic and still keep up with the constantly changing palettes of your audience.
“Dangerous” is the first song on I See You, and it greets us with epic horns and that subtle touch of classic Jamie xx ambience, following up with funky bass and somewhat tribal percussive elements. If one were to only hear this song and their single “On Hold,” they might be inclined to think I See You is a dance album, but these two songs are simply well placed diversions from the sleepy dream pop and emotionally explorative offerings that make up the rest of the album.
“Performance” and “Replica” are two such records that particularly emphasize the emotional aspect of their music. Romy’s voice on the former outlines the identity struggles involved with not being honest with yourself for the sake of another.
“Replica” seems to take an introspective tone in examining the connection between all things and the repetition of the worst habits. This particular song stood out to me lyrically because it epitomizes how their minimalism can leave for a broad spectrum of interpretation. Are we simply doomed to repeat each other’s mistakes? Are we in control of society or merely a product of it to be influenced and pushed around by a wave of growing uncertainty.
“25 and you’re just like me, is it in my nature to be stuck on repeat?”
Could this be speaking to the universal problem existing within us that we are all outwardly trying to solve by finding ourselves in others? I don’t know, but the beat rides.
In every return album, listeners look to hear something that is familiar to convince them that they like this and to help usher them along into this new chapter of the artist’s life. “Brave For You” is the closest thing to “Angels” that exists on their new album and that’s perfectly fine.
In all, this was a pleasant entry into the current indie rock/pop scene, providing a healthy amount of minimal contrast and dreamy guitar ballads to offset the ambitious “I’m going to make you dance dammit!” music being presented by their categorical peers.
Stream I See You below, and purchase via iTunes.