The XX ‘Coexist’ Review
*British trio The XX play it safe on their sophomore album ‘Coexist‘, but if it ain’t broke, why fix it?
I just wrote about bands that Peaked With Their First Album. Sometimes a first release is so perfect that its impossible to top.
The XX’s 2009 self-titled début was a perfect album. Every song ached expertly with emotion and slick production, making them sound like a veteran act.
So how does their new album ‘Coexist” stack up to their stellar original?
They haven’t abandoned the signature sound of their début. ‘Coexist’ languishes in the quiet, echo-chamber soul that brought them acclaim; stuttering beats, goth/dream-pop guitar, and the whispered, sultry vocals of Roma Madley-Croft and Oliver Sim.
Band member Jamie Smith once again does production duties, and his skill for melancholic sonics remains intact.
The single “Angels” starts off ‘Coexist’. It’s sparse, spectral sound sets the tone for what’s to follow.
The bass-driven “Chained” picks up the tempo, but doesn’t break the sexual tension of Sim and Croft.
The next track “Fiction” is one of the albums best. It’s propulsive beat and lush sound bringing to mind “Missing” by Everything But The Girl. (Oddly enough there is another song here called “Missing”. It’s also quite good)
“Sunset” is forlorn love at its finest, with love-sick lyrics like “I always thought it was sad, the way we act like strangers. After all that we had, we act like we had never met”. Sims and Croft play the part of doomed lovers perfectly, and their vocal, lyrical interplay remains a huge part of their appeal. Croft’s simple but elegant crystalline guitar lines add layers of textured tension.
The cinematic chill that permeates “Tides” is retro trip-hop perfection, with the mournful refrain “You leave with the tide, and I can’t stop you leaving.”
“Unfold” opens with an emotive guitar figure from Croft. The song slowly builds into one of their most epic tracks to date.
But “Swept Away” is the high point of the album, between the twinkling piano, whip cracked beats and lovely harmonized vocals, it’s gorgeous.
Smith’s production rarely strays from the sound of their début, except for “Try”, with its chiming Jamaican drums. If anything, the sound is even sparser than their first album, featuring more moments of quiet.
All in all, ‘Coexist’ hits all the right notes. It’s no big departure, but with a sound this good, why not leave well enough alone? It’s the perfect soundtrack for late night romance, an after party, or introspective solitude. Rabid fans will be quite happy.
*You can buy The XX’s Coexist from iTunes below.
*Or order the cd from Amazon.
[amazon_image id=”B008L5FFKQ” link=”true” target=”_blank” size=”medium” ]Coexist (Deluxe Edition)[/amazon_image]
And you can stream it for free on their website.