The xx - Coexist

A meticulously controlled aural environment
The xx - Coexist
Having carved out your own sound, won the Mercury Music Prize, lost a band member and become platinum-selling artists with just your debut, what exactly do you do for the follow-up? Well, if you are The xx, the strategy seems largely to be more of the same. The familiar sparse, shrugging guitar touches return, sounding no less beguiling than they did three years ago, but the craft has improved.

Where ‘xx’ traded on a certain naïve charm, ‘Coexist’ is a meticulously controlled aural environment. Sure of their own ability and possessing a confidence in their approaches to each track, the 2012 incarnation of The xx is best highlighted by two songs. Firstly, the sublime lead track, ‘Angels’, is a boldly minimalistic piece, centred on Romy Madley Croft’s delicate vocal, distilling the magic of the debut into just under three minutes.

Following on from his masterful reworking of Gil Scott Heron’s ‘I’m New Here’, Jamie Smith’s production ploughs a darker, dancier seam on ‘Reunion’. Slightly neutered steel drums wind their way around this track, gradually succumbing to an insistent beat as it builds to a not entirely euphoric climax, evoking the nocturnal claustrophobia of some of Burial’s work. Which is not to say that ‘Coexist’ is hard-edged record, indeed it often evokes memories of Everything But The Girl at their prime, the interplay of Croft and Oliver Sim as symbiotic as that of Thorn and Watt. While the lyrics are a little lacking, the sonics remain impressive enough to divert attention.

8/10

Words by GARETH JAMES

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